News World WhatsApp launches fact-check service to fight fake news during India polls

WhatsApp launches fact-check service to fight fake news during India polls

WhatsApp on Tuesday launched a service for Indians to check the veracity of information, in the messaging platform’s latest attempt to combat fake news in India ahead of national elections beginning this month.

WhatsApp said in a statement it was working with local startup Proto to classify messages sent to the service by users as true, false, misleading or disputed. They will also build a database of such content to better understand misinformation.

The move comes as WhatsApp, with over 200 million users in India, battles criticism of its platform being used for the spread of misinformation, while social media companies across the board work to prevent the phenomenon – particularly during sensitive events such as elections.

WhatsApp owner Facebook Inc said on Monday it had deleted 712 accounts and 390 pages in India and Pakistan for “inauthentic behaviour”, saying many were linked to India’s opposition Congress party and others related to Pakistan’s military.

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

Major Indian political parties have accused each other of propagating fake news on WhatsApp while denying they do so themselves. In February, a senior WhatsApp executive said parties were trying to use the app in “ways for which it was not intended”.

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

“The goal of this project is to study the misinformation phenomenon at scale,” Proto’s founders Ritvvij Parrikh and Nasr ul Hadi said in a statement. “As more data flows in, we will be able to identify the most susceptible or affected issues, locations, languages, regions, and more.”

WhatsApp said Proto would be helped by two other organisations with experience working on misinformation-related projects.

“The challenge of viral misinformation requires more collaborative efforts and cannot be solved by any one organisation alone,” WhatsApp said.

The new service, dubbed Checkpoint Tipline, can receive messages in the form of images and video as well as text in English and four regional languages, it added. Checkpoint is a research project commissioned by WhatsApp.

Reuters received a message on WhatsApp containing false information and forwarded it to the service around 0640 GMT. It was still awaiting classification more than two hours later.

“Thank you, we’ve received your request and you should hear from us again shortly,” a reply said.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption allows groups of many users to exchange text messages, images and video beyond the oversight of independent fact checkers or even the company itself.

In July, the company introduced a measure limiting the number of messages a user can forward, a move aimed at curbing mass forwards in India, where the spread of rumours led to several killings and sparked calls for government action.

(Reuters)

Top Stories

164 new cases, one death announced on Thursday

The Health Ministry announced the death of one person due to COVID-19. This raises the death toll from the virus in Cyprus to 178,...

Where to get antigen rapid tests on Friday

The Health Ministry announced the following antigen rapid test sites for Friday, 22 January 2021: LIMASSOL Parking place Sklavenitis supermarket, Germasogia 08:30-16:30 Parking place Lidl supermarket, Limassol...

Alcohol consumption among Cypriot students high

Alcohol consumption among students has been reduced, the Cyprus National Addictions Authority ascertained on the basis of a European research, conducted every four years....

Earthquake measuring 5 felt all over Cyprus

An earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale occurred around 16:30 and was felt all over Cyprus. Due to the earthquake, the Parliament session that...

UK hits 5m vaccine doses as health minister defends scheduling change

British health minister Matt Hancock on Thursday (January 21) lamented another record daily number of COVID-19 deaths, but hailed the achievements of the UK's...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...