WhatsApp starts tip-line for curbing fake news ahead of elections

0

WhatsApp has been actively introducing features in order to curb the spreading of fake news through its platform. In the latest move, the Facebook-owned company has started “tip-line” which is basically a helpline to check the authenticity of messages shared.

The fact-checking service has a phone number (+91-9643-000-888) where users can send dubious messages if they think they might not be true or otherwise want them verified. With this, the company hopes to curb the spread of misinformation and rumors in its largest market ahead of the general elections which start on April 11.

WhatsApp-Tipline-Screenshot-English--e1554293870728

WhatsApp is working with India-based media startup named Proto to verify if the information shared by the user is true, false, misleading, disputed or out of scope. Proto’s verification center will help create a database of rumors to study misinformation during the elections.

The company said that the center can review messages or rumors received in the form of pictures, video links or text and will cover four regional languages along with English — Hindi, Telugu, Bengali, and Malayalam.

How does it work?

  • If you receive a message which seems dubious, forward it to this number — 9643000888 on WhatsApp.
  • It will verify and let you know if the information shared is true, false, misleading, disputed, or out of scope.
  • Currently, it supports five languages — English, Hindi, Telugu, Bengali, and Malayalam.

This new service comes as India’s general election is due to take place in several phases starting later this month. This presents a more clearly defined threat in the democratic process and the outcome being manipulated by weaponized political disinformation.

A couple of months ago, the company had warned political parties that it will ban accounts in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections if needed. WhatsApp has faced major issues with fake news or misinformation being spread on its end-to-end encrypted platform. This has led to tragic outcomes, including mob lynchings.