Sunday September 15, 2019

WHO with Facebook to Direct Users to WHO Sites Where They can Get Accurate Information about Vaccines

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib tells VOA that misinformation about vaccines is a global health threat

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

The World Health Organization has reached an agreement with Facebook to direct millions of users to WHO sites where they can get accurate information about vaccines.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib tells VOA that misinformation about vaccines is a global health threat that could reverse decades of progress made in tackling preventable illnesses.

“Consider for example, when WHO is doing a campaign on polio in Pakistan or yellow fever in Africa,” she said. “You can see a lot of misinformation about the danger of vaccines. And, we do know that vaccines work. … Without vaccines people will die.”

The WHO estimates more than 3 million people die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases. Separately, it estimates vaccines against measles, diphtheria, hepatitis, cholera and other diseases save at least 2 million lives annually.

WHO, Facebook, Users
The World Health Organization has reached an agreement with Facebook to direct millions of users to WHO sites where they can get accurate information about vaccines. Pixabay

Chaib says the WHO is turning to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other major online sites to stop false rumors and misinformation about vaccines permeating social media platforms.

“We hope to reach all generations with the right information through the digital platforms because this is the way people now get the information they need,” she said. “They will not go directly to the WHO website or read a newspaper. They will go to social media and see what people are saying about vaccines or other things.”

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But the WHO says the online effort alone is not enough to reverse a globally trending anti-vaccine movement. It says governments and the health sector must take tangible steps to alleviate the concerns of parents. (VOA)

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Facebook Offers Help To India On Fake News Traceability On WhatsApp

With India pressing for traceability of WhatsApp messages to check the spread of fake news, Nick Clegg, Facebook Vice President, Global Affairs and Communications, has offered alternative ways to help the country

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Fake, News, WhatsApp, Facebook, India
Over 300 million of the 550 million smartphone and broadband users in the country are low on literacy and digital literacy. Pixabay

With India pressing for traceability of WhatsApp messages to check the spread of fake news, Nick Clegg, Facebook Vice President, Global Affairs and Communications, has offered alternative ways to help the country, without any reference towards tracing the origin of the WhatsApp messages.

WhatsApp had categorically said in the past that the government’s demand to trace the origin of messages on its platform is not possible as it “undermines the privacy of the people”.

Clegg who was the UK’s former Deputy Prime Minister before joining Facebook, visited India last week and met several senior government officials, including IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and offered to assist law enforcement agencies in all possible ways like Artificial Intelligence-driven data analytics and access to “meta-data”.

“Facebook cares deeply about the safety of people in India and Nick’s meetings this week provided opportunities to discuss our commitment to supporting privacy and security in every app we provide and how we can continue to work productively with the government of India towards these shared goals,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

Fake, News, WhatsApp, Facebook, India
When a message is sent from WhatsApp, the identity of the originator can also be revealed along with the message. Pixabay

Last December, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) proposed changes to Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000.

The proposed regulations require a company to “enable tracing out of originators of information on its platform as required by legally authorised government agencies”.

The end-to-end encryption feature in WhatsApp makes it difficult for law enforcement authorities to find out the culprit behind a misinformation campaign.

The mobile messaging platform with over 400 million users has already called the proposed changes “overbroad”.

“Attributing messages on WhatsApp would undermine the end-to-end encryption, and its private nature, leading to possibilities of being misused,” a company spokesperson had earlier said.

WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook has over 300 million users in India.

WhatsApp in February stressed that some of the proposed government regulations for social media companies operating in India are threatening the very existence of the app in its current form.

“Of the proposed regulations, the one which concerns us the most is the emphasis on traceability of messages,” Carl Woog, WhatsApp’s Head of Communications, had told IANS.

Fake, News, WhatsApp, Facebook, India
The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, Facebook has filed a petition to transfer the case looking at enforcing traceability on WhatsApp to the Supreme Court. It is currently sub judice in the Madras High Court.

Tamil Nadu, however, is aiming to get Facebook’s transfer petition dismissed by the Supreme Court.

A professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras recently stressed that the issue can be easily resolved without diluting end-to-end encryption and affecting the privacy of users.

“If WhatsApp says it is not technically possible to show the originator of the message, I can show that it is possible,” said V. Kamakoti.

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When a message is sent from WhatsApp, the identity of the originator can also be revealed along with the message.

So the message and the identity of the creator can be seen only by the recipient.

“When that recipient forwards the message, his/her identity can be revealed to the next recipient,” he said, adding that as per the court ruling, those who forward a harmful message can also be held responsible in certain cases. (IANS)