The problem of fake news of WhatsApp is quite prevalent and everyone who has been following the news is aware of it. The problems have been covered both by domestic as well as international publications about how fake news and disinformation has lead to physical loss of life or injury in the real world. WhatsApp has tried to work on a potential solution in terms of software updated to discourage the spread of fake news including full newspaper advertisements as well ask inviting academics to help the company with potential solutions.
The problem is this severe that the Government of India has issued an official mandate asking WhatsApp to work on more effective solutions. This mandate is the second notice by the government to the company to fix the problem. According to a recent report by The Economic Times, it is likely that the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay is interested in helping out WhatsApp to work on solutions to combat fake news. The report points out that a group of academicians are “in the process of working on a project to fight fake news on WhatsApp”.
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The team is planning to introduce the project as part of WhatsApp research awards in the area of tackling with the problem of fake news and social science. As part of the research awards, the academics or groups of academicians working on potential solutions need to submit their applications by August 12, 2018, and then WhatsApp “will grant awards of up to $50,000” for each research proposal.
As part of the awards, in addition to the grant, the company will also invite researchers to its headquarters in Menlo Park to meet with the research staff for WhatsApp. As mentioned in the report, Professor Kameswari Chebrolu from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering added, “We are in talks and discussing the prospects of sending our proposal for the awards on curbing fake news.”
She went on to point that IIT Bombay had submitted a proposal on how to stop fake news on WhatsApp to the government under IMPRINT India initiative by HRD ministry. This was long before the research awards initiative that WhatsApp introduced while asking for help WhatsApp added that it has been in touch with a number of academic institutions for the research awards.