WhatsApp ad campaign offers tips for users to combat fake news

Whatsapp's Ad on Tips to Battle Fake News

Whatsapp to introduce new tool to address fake news

This new feature will join a host of new ways to use WhatsApp after recent updates rolled out to the 1.8 billion plus users of the service. Yesterday, the company launched another feature for beta users which will highlight suspicious links shared on the platform in red. Much like the "Pizzagate" incident in 2016, Indian residents reacted violently to claims that people in their area were abducting children or harvesting organs. IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked WhatsApp to take measures to control the spread of fake news via its platform.

"Do not pay attention to the number of times you receive the message", it reads. When contacted, a WhatsApp spokesperson said: "This morning we are starting an education campaign in India on how to spot fake news and rumours".

WhatsApp will soon roll out a new feature that will allow users to know when a message received is just a forward, rather than one created by the sender.

The messaging platform has taking several steps to minimise the spread of fake news with a feature to identify forwards being rolled out this week.

WhatsApp's tips include checking with other sources, looking up photos online that may be edited, and thinking twice before forwarding a message you have doubts about. The ads will run in both English and Hindi and appear in national and regional newspapers around the country. WhatsApp told Poynter it plans to build on those efforts in the future.

Group admins can make a decision and even limit other users from sending messages in a specific group. Whatsapp came under scrutiny after it was found out that more than a dozen people got killed in a mob violence across five states of India due to the misinformation which was being spread through Whatsapp in the last two months.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on July 2 had written to WhatsApp asking it to take immediate steps to prevent the circulation of false information and provocative content, saying it "cannot evade accountability and responsibility". The label will apply to text, image, video and audio messages globally, a spokesperson confirmed to Poynter.

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