As per its commitment to the government on providing solutions for curbing fake messages on its platform, WhatsApp on Wednesday partnered with New Delhi-based Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) to create awareness among users about the need to verify information.

The company also launched a radio campaign in Hindi to create awareness about misinformation that can circulate on the platform.

Through this radio campaign, WhatsApp will urge users to be mindful of the messages they receive before forwarding them, the company said.

Gearing up for elections

In the run up to the upcoming Assembly and general elections, DEF will hold 40 training sessions for community leaders in 10 States where there have been worrisome cases of violence and where there will be polls before the end of the year.

“Our goal is to help keep people safe by creating greater awareness about fake news and empowering users to help limit its spread. In addition to the steps we are taking within WhatsApp, we believe impacting lives through education is critical in helping to achieve the vision of a Digital India,” Ben Supple, Public Policy Manager at WhatsApp said in a statement.

DEF will help educate government officials, administration representatives, civil society organisations and students to help spread the word about this challenge.

Educating users

The training will encourage WhatsApp users to be more open towards other communities, to enable them to differentiate between opinions and facts, and to inculcate a habit of verifying information through simple checks before forwarding it to their friends and family, it said. In addition, DEF will incorporate this new training as part of their network of over 30,000 grassroots community members in seven States.

With the availability of cheap smartphones and affordable internet plans, WhatsApp has become the most popular social media platform in India with over 200 million monthly active users.

Existing measures

While WhatsApp has already taken several technological measures to curb the problem of misinformation (such as the ‘forwarded’ tag and by limiting forwards to five chats), it is also eager to tackle the problem socially, it said. The announcements came after WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels met the Minister of Electronics and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who directed the Facebook-owned company to set up a local entity in the country, appoint a grievance redress officer, and come up with solutions to trace the origin of fake messages.

Prasad had said the government would not appreciate a scenario wherein WhatsApp is “answerable to America only” to which the WhatsApp chief had assured that all these three things will be followed up.