Facing flak over the circulation of fake news on its platform, WhatsApp today said it is rolling out educational videos in India asking users to “double check” facts before sharing messages received as forwards. The videos, in Hindi and English, will be available on Facebook – the parent company of WhatsApp as the messaging platform looks to combat spread of rumours that have incited mob fury cases in India. “WhatsApp is expanding its user education campaign on how to spot fake news and hoaxes. This week, WhatsApp is publishing a new video that explains the importance of the “forward” label and calls users to double check the facts when they are not sure who created the original message,” WhatsApp said elaborating on the 27-second video clip.
Following multiple incidents of mob lynching across the country, the government had slapped WhatsApp with two notices, with the second one warning that it will treat the messaging platform as abettor’ of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow if adequate checks are not put in place.
In response to these notices, WhatsApp had outlined initiatives it is taking to curb fake news circulation, including education and advocacy efforts. Recently, it has introduced the forward label and also limited the forwarding of messages to 5 people at one go.
WhatsApp has also stated that it is building an India-based team and that it believes the challenge of mob violence requires government, civil society, and technology companies to work together.
Government officials, however, have categorically said they are not satisfied with WhatsApp’s response, particularly as its key demands of ‘traceability’ and attribution of messages remain unaddressed reports PTI.
Also, the Department of Telecom has written to all telecom operators, Cellular Operators Association of India, Internet Service Providers Association of India and others seeking views on technical measures that can be taken for blocking apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp in situations where national security and public order are under threat.