In light of recent lynchings and mob violence after the circulation of fake news on WhatsApp, it would seem that the Facebook-owned online messaging service is taking steps so that such incidents don't repeat themselves. The Indian government has ordered WhatsApp to set up a proper corporate entity as well as to install a grievance officer in India for addressing issues related to fake news and anything else that might crop up.
To that end, WhatsApp has started rolling out its five-chat forward limit for Indian users and also introduced a feature which includes a “Forwarded” label on messages that are forwarded. However, India has nearly 200 million WhatsApp users and controlling the dissemination of news can be a very challenging task indeed.
To educate Indian audiences, WhatsApp has started an educational campaign that talks about creating awareness about misinformation circulated on the platform. Through this radio campaign, WhatsApp is urging users to be cognisant of the messages they receive and to be mindful before forwarding.
Below are four Hindi audio clips which explain what to do when you encounter anything resembling fake news.
The first clip explains that all forwarded messages that a user receives will be marked as forwarded. It also asks users to analyse the message before forwarding it as doing so could lead to the spreading of false rumours.
The second clip says that any forwarded message should not be treated as the truth. Images forwarded could be morphed or even if real pictures are used, the description under them may not be true.
The third audio clip tells the user that if they come across a forward that can cause public unrest, then they should double check and cross reference the information against other sources. Even if the same information comes from different sources, it doesn't mean it's necessarily true.
The fourth audio clip explains that if any forwards angers or frightens you, then the user should question if that was the exact motive of the message. If the answer is yes, then the message should not be forwarded. If any group uses fake news in an attempt to trigger anger or resentment, it would be best to exit the group and to report it to WhatsApp and other concerned authorities.