WhatsApp has a new radio campaign to counter fake news in India

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  • In an attempt to combat fake news being spread via WhatsApp, the messaging service has launched a radio campaign in India.
  • The campaign, currently being broadcast in Hindi, is a 30-second clip explaining how users can verify whether or not a message is fraudulent.
  • WhatsApp also has plans of broadcasting the add in regional languages via government-run radio channels in the coming weeks.
While there seems to have been some miscommunication between the Indian government and WhatsApp over whether or not messages can be traced back to their original sender, the messaging platform has taken to radio to address the problem of fake news.

Broadcasting in Hindi, the 30-second educational campaign ends with the statement, ‘ Mil kar mitaayein afwaahon ka bazaar’ (Let’s come together to eradicate the rumour mills). It informs users about how to check the authenticity of messages before forwarding them to other users and calling people to action.

The radio broadcast is the next phase of the public awareness campaign that the messaging platform initiated with full-page advertisements in major Indian newspapers back in July.

And, the ad isn’t specific to one city. The radio campaign will be airing across all 46 channels under All India Radio (AIR). They plan on moving beyond Hindi to air the ad in regional languages via other government-run radio channels in the coming weeks.

WhatsApp vs India

WhatsApp hasn’t had the best run in India this year with the string of lynchings that were a result of people using the platform to spread misinformation. The Indian government and the Facebook-owned messaging platform seemed to be at odds about what can be done to counter fake news, especially when it comes to tracking messages back to their owners.

While the Indian government re-iterates time and again that the task shouldn’t be all that difficult to accomplish, the messaging service is stringent in its resolve that such a solution will impair the privacy of its users.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is one of its most important features. It entails that the messages on the app can only be read by the people involved in the conversation, that they are the only ones with the key. According to the company, even they can’t spy on the messages being sent.

That being said, they’re both on the same page when it comes to setting up a local office in the country with a local team that can be held accountable when things go wrong. This isn’t only for addressing misinformation, but also for the payments feature that WhatsApp has been beta testing in India.
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