WhatsApp has launched its next weapon in the fight against misinformation on its platform in India: a tip line to which you can send forwards, rumors, and suspicious-sounding messages and have them verified.
The tip line is live as of today; if you’d like to give it a try, beam messages over to +919643000888, and reply with ‘1’ when prompted to confirm that you want the previous message you sent to be verified. The response will indicate if information is classified as ‘true’, ‘false’, ‘misleading’, ‘disputed’ or ‘out of scope’, and include any other related information.
“Launched by PROTO, an India-based media skilling startup, this tipline will help create a database of rumours to study misinformation during elections for Checkpoint – a research project commissioned and technically assisted by WhatsApp,” the Facebook-owned company said in a statement.
The move comes ahead of the Indian elections , when misinformation campaigns are rife across the country. Beyond zealous civilians who may share bogus messages, political parties operate numerous of group conversations to spread their propaganda – so the Facebook-owned messaging platform needs to engage every tool it’s got to curb the spread of fake news.
Once a WhatsApp user shares a suspicious message with the tipline, PROTO’s verification centre will seek to respond and inform the user if the claim made in message shared is verified or not.
“The response will indicate if information is classified as true, false, misleading, disputed or out of scope and include any other related information that is available,” the statement said. This centre is equipped to review content in the form of pictures, video links or text and will cover English and four regional languages – Hindi, Telugu, Bengali and Malayalam.
The Indian group will be helped by two international firms, Dig Deeper Media and Meedan, which have previously worked on misinformation-related projects globally, including during the elections in Mexico and France.
“The research from this initiative will help create a global benchmark for those wishing to tackle misinformation in their own markets,” said Fergus Bell, founder and chief executive, Dig Deeper Media.
WhatsApp faced severe criticism after lynching incidents followed the sharing of fake news on the platform.
However we are not yet clear about how it works and how fast the reply we receive. We have sent a message to the contact number and yet to receive an authentic answer. What do you think on this whatsapp facility ? Comment your views below !!