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WhatsApp Launches its First-Ever TV Campaign in India

In addition, it bans accounts that engage in unwanted automated activity

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WhatsApp
WhatsApp working on fingerprint authentication for chats: Report. Pixabay

Facing flak for the misuse of its platform, WhatsApp on Monday launched its first-ever TV campaign in India as part of its efforts to address the challenge of misinformation and pernicious rumours.

The popular messaging platform earlier launched two phases of a radio campaign to create awareness among users. The first phase of the campaign was kicked off on August 29 with ads across 46 radio stations of the All India Radio (AIR) in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The second phase of the campaign started 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.

For the TV campaign, WhatsApp said it worked closely with filmmaker Shirsha Guha Thakurta to develop three 60 second films that each convey real scenarios about dangerous rumours that can spread among users.

Timed to start just prior to the Assembly elections in Rajasthan and Telangana, the films will be available on TV, Facebook and YouTube in nine languages, the Facebook-owned platform said, adding that it would build on this effort to prepare for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

“We’re humbled by the impact that WhatsApp had on people’s ability to freely connect with their loved ones. We recognise at the same time connecting people can also lead to the spread of misinformation, which has to be confronted,” said Bosco Zubiaga, who led production of these films for WhatsApp.

whatsapp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

The rumours spread on the popular messaging platform which has over 200 million users in India have been linked to several lynching incidents in the country, forcing the government to send a stern message to the company.

Meeting WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels in August, Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the platform must comply with the law and take “suitable” steps to prevent its misuse.

Over the last several months, WhatsApp has made a series of changes including labeling forwarded messages to inform users when they have received something not from their immediate contact and set a limit on how forwarded messages can be sent.

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In addition, it bans accounts that engage in unwanted automated activity.

“We hope this campaign will help educate people how to stay safe on WhatsApp,” Zubiaga said.

Each film’s protagonist teaches someone important in their lives to not spread rumours and to use WhatsApp controls such as the ability to leave groups where rumours are spread and block unknown senders. (IANS)

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India to Set Up “Border Haats” with Myanmar

The Minister said, The success of the "Border Haats" running along the Bangladesh border in Meghalaya and Tripura has prompted us to go for similar 'haats'

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India, Border Haats, Myanmar
To carry out border trade with Myanmar, the location for the construction of 'Border Haat' has been identified in four places -- Hnahlan, Zote, Vaphai (Saikhumphai) and Sangau (Pangkhua) in southeastern Mizoram. Pixabay

The success of the “Border Haats” with Bangladesh has prompted other northeastern states of India to go for similar arrangements with Myanmar. At the instance of the Mizoram government, the Centre is likely to set up four “Border Haats” (market) along the border with Myanmar to boost local trade and livelihood of the people living there.

“To carry out border trade with Myanmar, the location for the construction of ‘Border Haat’ has been identified in four places — Hnahlan, Zote, Vaphai (Saikhumphai) and Sangau (Pangkhua) in southeastern Mizoram,” Mizoram Commerce and Industries Minister R. Lalthangliana told IANS.

The Minister said, “The success of the “Border Haats” running along the Bangladesh border in Meghalaya and Tripura has prompted us to go for similar ‘haats’ with Mynmar in Mizoram.”

Mizoram Commerce and Industries Department Director J. Hmingthanmawia said that the state government has sent the detailed proposals in this regard to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for its approval.

India, Border Haats, Myanmar
The success of the “Border Haats” with Bangladesh has prompted other northeastern states of India to go for similar arrangements with Myanmar. Pixabay

“Once we get the green signal from the MEA, we would seek funds from the Union Industries and Commerce Ministry,” Hmingthanmawia told IANS. He said that officials of the Mizoram government and Myanmar have recently conducted a joint survey and identified the locations to set up the “Border Haats”.

Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga in his Independence Day speech had said that the proposed “Border Haats” would become important trade points between India and Myanmar.

“Land Custom Station (LCS) at Zokhawthar, the lone trade route for Mizoram with South East Asian countries, is being proposed for upgradation. Construction of Trade Facilitation Centre at Tlabung has already been completed.”

“The Indian government has also proposed construction of an Integrated Check Post (ICP) at four places at the border in Mizoram — Marpara, Tuipuibari, Silsuri and Nunsury. The construction of ICP at Kawrpuichhuah is also expected to commence shortly,” the Chief Minister added.

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Mizoram has an unfenced international border of 404 km with Myanmar and 318 km with Bangladesh. The Border Security Force (BSF) has been guarding the Bangladesh border and Assam Rifles personnel are posted on the border with Myanmar.

Experts and various studies suggest that if the “Border Haats” are set up, smuggling of drugs and other commodities would be checked to a large extent. Security expert Manas Paul said that large-scale smuggling of drugs from Myanmar via Mizoram and other neighbouring states has increased in the last few years.

“What is really worrisome is the fact that these synthetic drugs have got a domestic market inside the state, especially among the younger generation. Cross border legal activities including setting up of “Border Haats” could curb the smuggling of drugs and other contraband,” Paul, who has authored books on security and terrorism in the northeast, told IANS.

The CUTS International, a Jaipur based international NGO, with support from the World Bank, had conducted a study in 2016 to understand and examine the effect of “Border Haats” on poverty alleviation and other multiplier effects such as informal trade.

India, Border Haats, Myanmar
At the instance of the Mizoram government, the Centre is likely to set up four “Border Haats” (market) along the border with Myanmar to boost local trade and livelihood of the people living there. Pixabay

CUTS International Executive Director Bipul Chatterjee said that trade will increase income, curb smuggling, and cross-border crimes will also go down.

“‘Border Haats’ have contributed to the border area development, roads have improved, trafficking of women has stopped, unemployment issues have been addressed,” said Chatterjee.

Currently four “Border Haats” are operational in Meghalaya and Tripura. The first “Border Haat” was started on July 23, 2011 at Kalaichar (India)-Kurigram (Bangladesh) in the West Garo Hills of Meghalaya. Three other “haats” followed in Meghalaya and Tripura.

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The Union Industries and Commerce Ministry has been spending on an average Rs 3.5 crore to develop the infrastructure and necessary facilities for each “Border Haat” along the Bangladesh border. The Bangladesh government is not providing any funds for the purpose.  (IANS)