WhatsApp to bring fake news verification model Verificado in India

In its effort to prevent misuse of the platform ahead of general election in India in 2019, Whatsapp is planning to bring a fake news verification model, Verificado, in India.

The model was recently used in Mexico Presidential election, where users attempt to spread rumours to Verificado’s Whatsapp account were foiled.

The initiative was supported by around 90 organisations including universities, media groups, NGOs, and social media giants such as Facebook and Google to help tackle the problem of fake news. Krzna, an AI-powered search tool was used to scan such posts during the election.

The messaging service executives, who met with Election Commision official, said that the platform will look out for spam messaging techniques in the run-up to state polls scheduled for 2018-end, said an ET report. And later learnings will be used to frame a broader approach for general elections in 2019.

Whatsapp said that it will maintain high vigilance throughout the period, especially 48 hours before polling begins.

The messages will be end-to-end encrypted and protect the privacy of messages, it added.

In last few months, Whatsapp had come under the spotlight after fake news circulated on WhatsApp led to a number of mob-lynchings in India. On July 1 in Maharashtra, five people were killed by a mob, who did so after they read forwarded messages which claimed that those five people were child-abductors.

Following the incident, the government had sent out a stern warning to WhatsApp. In a notice, it asked the messaging platform to immediately stop the spread of “irresponsible and explosive messages filled with rumours and provocation” through the application of appropriate technology.

However, in a response, WhatsApp said it had taken many steps in this regard. In May the messaging platform added new protections to prevent people from adding others back into groups which they had left — a form of misuse we think it is important to correct.

And last week, It claimed to launch a new setting that enables administrators to decide who gets to send messages within individual groups. Besides, the messaging platform is said to be testing a new label in India that highlights when a message has been forwarded versus composed by the sender.

Though, the government is not satisfied with it and has set up an internal group of officers to examine the possibility of sending a second notice.

The ministry has tasked the group to identify specific technical measures which WhatsApp can be asked to implement.

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