“There are all sorts of misleading information. For instance, if you drink hot water everyday, you will not get Covid. If you bang vessels it creates an ultrasonic sound which will kill the virus. This is unbelievable! Colony residents would ask questions like whether their pets (dog) could get corona,” Kamath said.
Fake and misleading information is a big problem in India, more so with the growing penetration of internet and proliferation of social media platforms. During the pandemic, there has been a flurry of unsubstantiated information.
Sensing that checking this proliferation needs an institutional effort, newschecker.in has partnered with MyGate to help resident welfare associations (RWAs) deal with fake information. MyGate simplifies management of more than 10,000 communities and over two million homes in 18 major Indian cities with an app-based solution.
“Many RWA members felt that unverified news forwards on social mediums and chat groups created panic and discomfort among residents. Many a time people were unsure whom or where to refer to figure out the authenticity of such information. We and MyGate have given residents the ability to do a real-time check and get information around Covid,” Kamath told FE.
Ranjit Behera, head of marketing at MyGate, said during Covid a lot of fake news started flowing on social media platforms. “Many RWAs started reaching out to us for assistance with authentic news. Earlier, we collated with various sources. And then we had a discussion with Newschecker. We liked their solution. We are managing almost two million homes and that is how our collaboration started. It is well-received on MyGate app. We now have a ‘Covid Protect’ option, which handles all the information on Covid,” he added.
Kamath said product integration happened in the third week of August. “What we did for MyGate was that for a city they are present in, we started collating official information on lockdown, regulations, etc. We verified and updated it too. So, a Delhi resident who wants to know about Covid-19 can simply access the MyGate Delhi page and find out,” he added.
“MyGate has put a WhatsApp badge number. Anything which people want to find out, they can reach out to us and we will verify it. We need 4-8 hours of time to fact-check. Initially we used to get 150-200 queries a day, but after MyGate integration, we are getting 250-275 queries,” Kamath said.