Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to logos of social media apps Signal, Whatsapp and Telegram projected on a screen in this picture illustration. VOA

Despite WhatsApp’s efforts to reduce the spread of fake news by limiting the number of forwards to five, the platform was extensively abused to spread unfounded rumours and create misinformation campaigns during recent elections in India and Brazil, a study has revealed.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp particularly failed in blocking the propagation of misinformation campaigns through public groups, said the study conducted by researchers from Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.


In the study, the researchers wanted to find out how effective WhatsApp’s efforts were in countering the spread of misinformation circulating on the platform.

They analysed the data around the election day, 60 days before and 15 after, in three countries — India, Brazil and Indonesia.

“Our results suggest that the current efforts deployed by WhatsApp can offer significant delays on the information spread, but they are ineffective in blocking the propagation of misinformation campaigns through public groups when the content has a high viral nature,” the authors wrote in a paper published on pre-print repository arXiv.org.

The research pointed out that WhatsApp allows the connection among like-minded individuals through chat groups which have a limit of 256 users and can be private or public.

While in the case of private groups, new members must be added by a member who assumes the role of group administrator, for public groups, the access is by invitation links that could be shared to anyone or be available on the Web.

As chat groups on WhatsApp are mostly private, harder to monitor than Facebook or Twitter discussions.


FILE – The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

The researchers joined several WhatsApp public groups and analysed messages posted on these platforms.

Their analysis showed that while most of the images (80 per cent) last no more than two days, there are images in Brazil and in India that continued to appear even after two months of the first appearance.

And even if the 80 per cent images last no more than two days in WhatsApp that can be already enough to infect half of users in public groups, leaving 20 per cent of messages with a time span sufficient to be viral.

“Our results show that a content can spread quite fast through the network structure of public groups in WhatsApp, reaching later the private groups and individual users,” the study said.

In the run up to the Lok Sabha elections, held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, WhatsApp introduced several measures to prevent the spread of misinformation on its platform.

Also Read: Uber to Merge Food-delivery, Rides into Single App: Report

Besides limiting the number of messages one can forward at a time, the instant messaging platform also added a label that highlights when a user receives a message that has been forwarded to them. It also launched campaigns to educate people on the dangers of fake news.

According to WhatsApp, 9 in 10 messages on the platform are sent between two people and the average group has less than 10 people.

The company had said it will continue to look for ways to help address these challenges through its product and partnership with civil society. (IANS)


Popular

IANS

The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

By Siddhi Jain

Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

four children standing on dirt during daytime 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash


Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Clean and maintained hands boost confidence in daily life activities.

If you feel that clean and well-groomed hands are just an essential prerequisite for women, you might like to think twice. Men should equally pay attention to their hands because our hand houses 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of its skin. You can easily assume what havoc it can create in our body because in India we have the culture of eating with our hands and spaces beneath nails can become breeding heaven for germs. Moreover, clean and maintained hands boost confidence in their daily life activities. Therefore, it's important to keep your hands clean irrespective of your gender by washing or sanitizing at regular intervals. And, to keep them groomed, you don't have to visit a salon.

Rajesh U Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India, gives easy and completely doable tips to follow at home:

* Refrain from harsh soaps: You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. Your soap can have a moisturizing element in it like aloe vera or shea butter. Ensure that you're washing your hands with normal water as hot water can make your hand's skin dry and scaly.

Soap bars organic You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. | Photo by Aurélia Dubois on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Dmitry Demidko on Unsplash

Bitcoin has become an essential crypto asset in modern portfolios and investment funds.

Bitcoin has become an essential crypto asset in modern portfolios and investment funds. The confidence generated in this cryptocurrency will depend a lot on the diversification that companies make in their balance sheets in Bitcoin and the increase of institutional investors that allocate a percentage of their funds in this crypto. American fund manager Cathie Wood makes some interesting predictions, both in the rise that the Bitcoin price will experience in the next 5 years, suggesting these institutional investors allocate 5% of their funds; this will help leverage the Bitcoin market.

Bitcoin will grow by a tenfold

Keep reading... Show less