WhatsApp launches second campaign to fight fake news ahead of India’s elections

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  • WhatsApp launched its second education campaign “Share Joy, Not Rumours” — to educate users to not misuse the platform
  • Social media platforms — WhatsApp, Facebook — in sync with the Internet Mobile Association of India has put out a ‘Voluntary Code of Ethics’ dedicated to the upcoming elections.
  • The 87,000 groups for political messaging can reach over 22 million people, engaging a much bigger audience.
As India heads into its 17th Lok Sabha elections, starting 11 April, social media platform WhatsApp has redoubled its efforts to curb fake news problem in the country.

On Monday, the messaging platform launched another education campaign — “Share Joy, Not Rumours” — to educate users to not misuse the platform with elections just a month away.

While the previous campaigns by WhatsApp focused on educating the general public through media, TV, radio advertisements, this campaign has been aimed to instruct people on the inbuilt controls that the application provides, so as to put a halt to spreading of misleading information, said the company. The move is to ensure safe election process.

WhatsApp has become one of the most dominant social media platforms in India to spread political messaging. According to media reports, WhatsApp in India has over 87,000 groups dedicated to political messaging to influence voters. While its user base on the messaging platform was reportedly 200 million as of two years ago.

Social media has become an integral part of election campaigning. With the Indian government recently introducing policies and regulations to curb fake news via social media platforms including WhatsApp and Facebook, the platforms along with the Internet Mobile Association of India have put out a ‘ Voluntary Code of Ethics’ dedicated to the upcoming elections.

WhatsApp, including other social media firms, will now have to process any request from the Election Commission to take down content within three hours during the 48-hour period before voting days.

WhatsApp is estimated to reach a smartphone user base of 430 million, according to Counterpoint Research.

"Over 87,000 groups aiming to influence the voters are currently active on WhatsApp. From fake statistics related to various government policies to news promoting regional violence, manipulated political news, government scams, historical myths, propaganda to patriotism and Hindu nationalism — WhatsApp has it all in the election season," social media expert Anoop Mishra reportedly said. Each WhatsApp Group can potentially have 256 users. This implies that the 87,000 groups can reach over 22 million people, engaging a much bigger audience in their mission to influence voters, he added.

With IANS

See also:
Social media platforms present India's Election Commission with 'Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Elections 2019'

Here are the 'commitments' that online platforms are making to the Indian government before the general elections

General Elections 2019: Election Commission to 'closely monitor' social media, regulate all political ads
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