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Here’s How WhatsApp was Extensively Abused During Elections in India

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

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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.

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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)

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Most Hated Task by Professionals in India is Data Entry: Report

88% Indians believe bots should be used for admin work

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Eighty-eight per cent of people in India believe that humans shouldn't be carrying out repetitive admin tasks if they can be done by bots. Pixabay

Eighty-eight per cent of people in India believe that humans shouldn’t be carrying out repetitive admin tasks if they can be automated and this could be a better way to make use of technology, a new report said on Tuesday.

The Automation Anywhere — a global leader in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) surveyed more than 10,000 office workers and revealed that on an average they spend more than three hours a day on manual, repetitive computer tasks which are not part of their primary job.

The research, conducted by OnePoll, investigated the time spent on and attitudes towards manual, repetitive digital administration tasks in the modern enterprise.

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Workers in India can focus on higher value tasks if the mundane repetitive tasks can be automated and be completed by bots. Pixabay

“As per the report, the most hated task for Indian professionals is Data Entry. Close to 80 per cent of the participants in India believe that admin work is an obstacle for them to do their main job,” said Milan Sheth, Executive Vice President India, Middle East and Africa, Automation Anywhere.

“Workers can focus on higher value tasks if the mundane repetitive tasks can be automated,” Sheth added.

New data shows that nearly half of workers surveyed who expressed an opinion find digital administration boring (47 per cent) and a poor use of their skills (48 per cent), while the majority say it gets in the way of doing their main job (51 per cent overall, rising to 80 per cent in India) and reduces their overall productivity (64 per cent).

According to the survey, Over half (52 per cent) of millennial respondents felt that they could be more productive if they had less administrative tasks to complete, slightly higher than the average at 48 per cent.

Also Read- Apple CEO Tim Cook Bullish on Preventative Healthcare Technology, AR

The study also revealed that nearly half (49 per cent) of those surveyed say that simple digital administrative tasks often prevent them from leaving the office on time, 60 per cent of the Indian participants believe the same, indicating it’s impacting their personal lives. (IANS)