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In a Bid to Tackle Fake News, WhatsApp Launches Second Phase of Radio Ad Campaign in India

WhatsApp has also taken some technological measures to curb the problem of disinformation, including the introduction of the "forwarded" tag and limiting forwarding to five chats at once

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WhatsApp, DEF train community leaders to tackle fake news. Pixabay
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After being pulled up by the government to take concrete steps to stop the spread of misinformation and fake news on its platform, Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Wednesday said it has launched the second phase of its radio ad campaign in the country to create awareness and empower users.

The first phase of the educational campaign was kicked off on August 29 with ads across 46 radio stations of All India Radio (AIR) in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The second phase of the campaign started on Wednesday on September 5 with radio ads across 83 AIR radio stations in Assam, Tripura, West Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.

These campaigns will run in eight regional languages — Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Telugu, Oriya and Tamil — for a 15-day duration, WhatsApp said in a statement.

The campaign has been designed in an easy to understand format to help user’s spot misinformation and further sensitize them about the challenges of fake news and addressing these as a society.

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WhatsApp to train users on dangers of fake news as well.

“WhatsApp stands committed in its efforts to address these issues jointly with civil society, stakeholders and the government,” the company said.

These radio campaign highlights tips like understand when a message is “forwarded”; check information that seems unbelievable and photos carefully; question information that upsets you and be thoughtful about what you share.

WhatsApp has also roped in New Delhi-based non-profit Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) to create awareness among its users about the need to verify information.

“Our goal is to help keep people safe by creating greater awareness about fake news and empowering users to help limit its spread,” Ben Supple, Public Policy Manager at WhatsApp, said in a statement.

As part of the new partnership with WhatsApp, DEF has committed to holding 40 training sessions for community leaders in 10 states across the country where there have been worrisome cases of violence and where there will be state polls before the end of the year.

WhatsApp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

In a meeting with WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels on August 21, Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad instructed the Facebook-owned platform to comply with the law of the land and take “suitable” steps to prevent its misuse.

The meeting took place after several lynching incidents were linked to the spread of misinformation on the instant messaging platform which has over 200 million monthly active users in India.

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WhatsApp has also taken some technological measures to curb the problem of disinformation, including the introduction of the “forwarded” tag and limiting forwarding to five chats at once.

“In addition to the steps we are taking within WhatsApp, we believe impacting lives through the power of education is critical to helping achieve the vision of a ‘Digital India’,” Supple added. (IANS)

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WhatsApp Partners With DEF To Train Community Leaders in Order To Tackle Fake News

The teams will also cover key states such as, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tripura and Jharkhand by March 2019, the statement said

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WhatsApp, DEF train community leaders to tackle fake news. Pixabay

Aiming to address the challenge of misinformation during the upcomimg Rajasthan Assembly polls, WhatsApp on Monday conducted training for community leaders here, in partnership with the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), the Facebook-owned mobile messaging platform said.

The education workshop encouraged WhatsApp users to see themselves as “agents of change” by addressing socio-behavioural change and empowered them to spot false news.

The training will also enable them to differentiate between rumours and opinions; shared subsequent steps to tackle instances of false news and tips to stay safe on WhatsApp.

“WhatsApp is proud to have played a part in helping millions of people in Rajasthan to freely connect with their loved ones anywhere in the world. These trainings are a key part of our strategy to help people stay safe and limit the spread of harmful rumours this election season” said Ben Supple, Public Policy Manager, WhatsApp, in a statement.

The curriculum further delved into how users can contact fact-checking organisations like Altnews and Boom Live to accurately verify information when they are in doubt.

The training was attended by over 100 participants including from local government administrations, law enforcement authorities, college students, NGOs and community leaders who are dedicated to the technological empowerment of their society, especially villages and semi-urban centre.

WhatsApp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device.

“While the problem of misinformation is not restricted to rural areas alone, it is the rural population that majorly lacks access to alternative news sources for sake of verification,” said Osama Manzar, Founder and Director, DEF.

“We see education as the only solution to this problem, and we know that when we teach them some basic verification techniques, they’re going to tell at least two other people about it, creating a ripple effect and potentially fighting misinformation.”

Additionally, WhatsApp and DEF will organise workshops as a part of their Community Information Resource Centre (CIRC), where they will conduct training sessions targeted at grassroots communities in rural areas across five states in India, the company said.

In August, WhatsApp was asked by the central government to take steps to stop the spread of disinformation on its platform.

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WhatsApp roped in New Delhi-based non-profit DEF and initiated a series of educational workshops in 10 key election states including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana.

The teams will also cover key states such as, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tripura and Jharkhand by March 2019, the statement said. (IANS)