WhatsApp launches advertising campaign in India to fight spread of fake news


The Facebook-owned messaging service has been under enormous pressure to curb the spread of misinformation in India after the lynching of more than 20 people accused of child abduction in the last two months.

The new feature will help users identify suspicious links shared within the platform. "If you see something that's not true, make people aware and help stop the spread".

WhatsApp is going through a critical phase in India due to the spread of fake news leading to mob lynching. It is also advised to double check facts before forwarding to know the source of information.

Experts said the that the need to curb fake news has also assumed urgency ahead of India's general elections scheduled for next year - WhatsApp has become the favored medium for political parties to target voters.

The ad comes nearly a week after WhatsApp wrote to the Union Ministry of Information and Technology, saying the company was horrified by awful acts of violence referring to the cases of lynching prompted by the spread of fake news.

Facebook's encrypted messaging app is favored worldwide for its privacy, but that same feature makes it hard to police the spread of misinformation.

It may look like the link to a well-known website but if there are spelling mistakes or unusual characters, it's usually a sign something's wrong. It started with the publication of several full-page advertisements in English, Hindi and regional languages in newspapers across the country - a strategy that borrows from Facebook's own public relations playbook. "We will build on these efforts".

The newest version of WhatsApp includes the feature, which marks forwarded messages in subtle but still hard to miss italicized text above the content of a message. The app also restricted the dissemination of false messages through a 'Send Messages' permissions feature for groups that allow group admins to limit participants from sending messages.

Five people were lynched to death by villagers in Maharashtra's Dhule district after videos of child lifters were actively circulated on a WhatsApp group.

WhatsApp has said it can block spam but cannot read the content of messages for privacy reasons, including potentially problematic content spreading in user chats.

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