WhatsApp is collaborating with a startup in India as it hopes to change the perception that the messaging app is used to spread misinformation. A new feature will help users determine the credibility of information sent to them during the country's national elections.
Fake news is a big problem across all social media platforms, but WhatsApp has been accused of being a hotbed of false information in India where it has more than 200 million users. The upcoming general election, which is due to conclude on May 23, provides an opportunity for the Facebook-owned platform to prove it takes the issue seriously.
Working with a startup called Proto and a couple of other organizations, WhatsApp has developed Checkpoint Tipline. You can send it photos, videos, or text (in English and four local dialects), and it will classify it as true, false, misleading, or disputed. Reuters tried it out but reported no response after two hours of waiting — looks like it may take some time, at least to begin with.
This isn't the first initiative of its kind we've heard that WhatsApp is working on. The company recently tested reverse image searches within the app to halt the spread of fakes and hoaxes. In the build-up to the elections in India, Facebook has already deleted 712 accounts and 390 pages in the country (and neighboring Pakistan) that show signs of spreading untrustworthy information.