In an effort to fight the problem of fake news spreading through its instant messaging platform, WhatsApp has launched an ad campaign that outlines tips and advice on how its users can tell when a message they receive isn’t genuine. The ad campaign sees full-page ads in a number of newspapers today, mentioning steps to check when a piece of news may be fake.
This comes after the Indian Government ordered WhatsApp to take steps to curb the spread of misinformation on its platform. The steps are being taken after reports of mob lynchings across the country that were triggered by WhatsApp messages being spread maliciously. WhatsApp has 200 million active monthly users in India alone, which is among its largest markets globally. The widespread use of WhatsApp not only makes it the ideal platform for internet-based instant messaging on smartphones, but also an easy method to spread both information and misinformation.
In its ads, WhatsApp lists ten points on what users should look out for in messages, to know when fake news is being spread on the platform. The campaign is appealing to users to do their part to curb the spread of fake news on WhatsApp, by simply being more vigilant and double checking information before forwarding it onward.
The unchecked forwarding through WhatsApp by users has recently been a serious problem, since a lot of the forwards are dubious in nature. This causes rumors to spread, and can cause law and order problems as was recently reported regarding the mob lynchings. Users on WhatsApp should always do their own research into whether a piece of information being forwarded is genuine, before sending it along.
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WhatsApp has recently taken steps on its own end to combat the spread of misinformation as well, including a tag that alerts users when a message has been forwarded, as well as features that change the way WhatsApp groups work. Perhaps the most effective of these methods is a new feature that will alert users when a link is suspicious within the app itself.