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WhatsApp turns to newspaper ads to spread awareness against fake news


Mired by fake news circulation in India, Facebook-owned instant messenger service WhatsApp is looking tap national newspapers and local dailies to create awareness amongst citizens. Apart from advertisement and promotions, this is the first instance for any Internet company which is leveraging newspapers for controlling the fake news menace.

The company has reportedly given an advertisement in Times of India publication in Pune edition. Apart from English readers, WhatsApp will also cater regional dailies across India (such as Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and other states) where fake news circulation has been spreading like a wildfire.

WhatsApp has alerted people in 10 important points to curb and spot fake news.


“Our first step is placing newspaper advertisements in English and Hindi and several other languages. We will build on these efforts,” outlines the news advertisement.

The development comes after central government’s strong reaction against social media becoming a hub for spreading rumours, hatred and fake news. The sudden move by WhatsApp is also the result of a series of mob lynching and violence cases happened in Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tripura, and West Bengals.

All of the incidents reportedly fuelled by messages circulated via WhatsApp which subsequently became viral and led to deaths of several people.

With over 250 million userbase, a messaging platform can be vulnerable in spreading any news deliberately or non-deliberately. As far as remedial steps by the company and government are concerned, both are trying to pass the buck.

After the government’s recent warning to tackle the issue, WhatsApp had claimed that it is working to resolve it. The company is testing a feature in India to highlight a forwarded message as well as it is deploying machine learning techniques to identify malicious content.

To identify rumors and false news, the company has also started working with fact-checking organizations such as Boom Live in India.

Of late, the company is reportedly working with researchers to help people spot fake news. It also offers $50K reward to researchers who can come up with measures to solve the problem.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp has claimed that the company’s end-to-end encryption that provides privacy and security prevents it from seeing problematic content spreading through private conversations on its app.

The development was first reported by Reuters.

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