WhatsApp launches service to check fake news; here’s how it will work

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Updated: April 3, 2019 7:12:20 AM

“The response will indicate if information is classified as true, false, misleading, disputed or out of scope and include any other related information that is available,” the statement said.

WhatsApp has over 200 million subscribers in the country and has constantly been at the receiving end of the government for checking spread of fake news and helping in tracing the origin of such messages.

Popular messaging app WhatsApp on Tuesday unveiled its ‘Checkpoint Tipline’, where subscribers can check the authenticity of information received as part of its effort to check fake news ahead of the general elections in the country.

“Launched by Proto, an India-based media skilling start-up, this tipline will help create a database of rumours to study misinformation during elections for Checkpoint — a research project commissioned and technically assisted by WhatsApp,” the company said in a statement.

It said that starting Tuesday, subscribers in India can submit misinformation or rumours they receive to the Checkpoint Tipline on WhatsApp (+91-9643-000-888).

Once a user shares a suspicious message with the tipline, Proto’s verification centre will seek to respond and inform the user if the claim made in message shared is verified or not.
“The response will indicate if information is classified as true, false, misleading, disputed or out of scope and include any other related information that is available,” the statement said.

This centre is equipped to review content in the form of pictures, video links or text and will cover English and four regional languages — Hindi, Telugu, Bengali and Malayalam.
Proto will also look at working with organisations at grassroot level to submit misinformation circulating across different regions in the country during the election period.

WhatsApp has over 200 million subscribers in the country and has constantly been at the receiving end of the government for checking spread of fake news and helping in tracing the origin of such messages.

Under pressure to stop rumours and fake news, WhatsApp had last year restricted forwarding messages to five chats at once. It has also been putting out advertisements in newspapers and running television and radio campaigns offering tips to users on how to spot misinformation.
However, WhatsApp has so far resisted the government’s demand for identifying message originators, arguing that such a move would undermine the end-to-end encryption and the private nature of the platform, creating potential for serious misuse.

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