In its bid to fight fake news on its platform, Facebook-owned instant messaging service WhatsApp issued an advertisementon July 10 listing out 10 tips to avoid the spread of false information and check the authenticity of information before sharing. The ad campaign is part of WhatsApp's initiative to fight fake or motivated messages that have led to unfortunate incidents in recent times, including lynching in some Indian states.
The instant messaging app would also be rolling out an update this week to allow users to distinguish between forwarded and original messages. This would help users double-check the facts of shared information before forwarding it.
In its ad campaign, the company has urged users to be cautious before sharing any forwarded message, image, video and website URLs. The app-based instant messaging platform has advised users to question information that upsets them, and requested not to forward such information. The company has also urged users to check information source and pay attention to minute details like spelling mistakes or unusual characters which could be some signs of something being wrong. The company suggests users not to believe information shared along with photographs and videos in their entirety, as these could easily be morphed or fabricated to give misleading information.
On July 4, the government had directed WhatsApp to take urgent steps to prevent the spread of irresponsible and explosive messages through its platform amid the recent string of cases of lynching provoked by posts circulated on popular messaging apps. The warning to WhatsApp followed reports that these incidents were driven by certain "fake and motivated" messages circulated on the widely used messaging app.
Responding to that, WhatsApp had said it would institute awards for research on "spread of misinformation" on its platform, as the messaging app looked to address concerns over circulation of fake messages and videos.