Increasing its efforts on bringing down the spread of fake news on the platform, WhatsApp today stated that it's expanding the radio campaign to 10 more India states. And the states include Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. WhatsApp faced severe questions from the Indian government regarding the fake news information spreading on the platform. Thanks to the circulation of fake news on its platform, there were multiple incidents of mob lynching across the country. For the unaware, WhatsApp kicked off the first phase of its radio campaign which urges users to check the veracity of information received as a forward before sharing it with others. On August 29, WhatsApp began its radio campaign in seven states including Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
WhatsApp Radio Campaign Second Phase to Start on September 5
"The second phase of the campaign starts on September 5 with radio ads across 83 radio stations of AIR across the states of Assam, Tripura, West Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Orissa and Tamil Nadu," WhatsApp said in a statement. These campaigns will run in eight regional languages including Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Telugu, Oriya and Tamil and will run for a 15-day duration, it added.
"The campaign has been designed in an easy-to-understand format to help users spot misinformation and further sensitise them about the challenges of fake news and addressing these as a society," it noted, according to PTI.
These campaigns advise users to verify the authenticity of messages before forwarding them and to report content that they might find to be inflammatory. It also cautions users to be careful about forwarding messages that contain misinformation and said doing so could have serious repercussions.
WhatsApp Slapped With Two Notices for the Spreading of Fake News
WhatsApp, which has been slapped with two notices to check the spread of fake news, has taken a series of measures, including restricting the number of forwards and added forward' label to help users identify such messages. It is also in the process of establishing a local corporate entity.
It has, however, not accepted the government's demand for traceability of messages saying that creating such a software will go against the idea of user privacy and end-to-end encryption.
With general elections slated to be held next year in India, the government is taking a tough stance on the use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp for the spread of misinformation.
The government had warned WhatsApp that it would treat the messaging platform as an abettor of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow if adequate checks are not put in place.
"WhatsApp stands committed in its efforts to address these issues jointly with civil society, stakeholders and the government," the company said in its statement.
In a recent meeting with WhatsApp Head Chris Daniels, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had asserted that the company find a solution to track the origin of messages on its platform, set up a local corporate entity that is subject to Indian laws within a defined timeframe as well as appoint a grievance officer.
India is a key market for WhatsApp, which has over 1.5 billion users globally, as it has more than 200 million in India.