WhatsApp launches new fact-checking feature

WhatsApp Unveils'Tipline in India to Tackle Fake News Ahead of General Elections

WhatsApp launches new fact-checking feature

This comes in just days after Facebook took down 549 Facebook accounts and 138 Pages belonging to individuals and businesses in India that were involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour ahead of the general elections.

WhatsApp users can send messages, including images, video and text in five languages, which are English, Hindi, Telugu, Bengali and Malayalam to check that credibility of the source.

When a WhatsApp user shares a suspicious message with the tipline, PROTO's verification center will seek to respond and inform the user if the claim made in message shared is verified or not, said Facebook-owned WhatsApp in a press statement. PROTO will also encourage grassroots organizations to submit rumors circulating across different regions in India during the election period. This new tipline feature is developed in collaboration with Indian startup called PROTO, which will help in creating a database of several fake News and rumours to understand misinformation specially during elections.

The first phase of India's elections are scheduled to begin on April 11, with final results expected on May 23.

WhatsApp had a similar challenge during Brazilian elections a year ago, when politicians had faced claims of spreading falsehoods on the platform.

India is considered by Facebook as one of its largest markets with over 200 million users.

PROTO's founders Ritvvij Parrikh and Nasr ul Hadi said: "The goal of this project is to study the misinformation phenomenon at scale - natively in WhatsApp". In February, a senior WhatsApp executive said parties were trying to use the app in "ways for which it was not intended".

"The challenge of viral misinformation requires more collaborative efforts and can not be solved by any one organisation alone", WhatsApp said in a statement. Checkpoint is a research project commissioned by WhatsApp.

The startup firm will be assisted by two worldwide companies - Dig Deeper Media & Meedan, which have previously worked on several misleading and fake-news related projects across the globe. To make sure the elections aren't influenced by external factors, WhatsApp has announced a new service to curb the spread of fake news during the elections. Even after two hours of delivery, the website was still awaiting classification on the message.

Following this, users are required to send "1" to WhatsApp to verify the message he or she wants to get checked. Even measures such as indicating that a message is forwarded don't help, so the company chose to up the ante a bit more.

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