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WhatsApp hits the road with skits to stamp out fake news in India

WhatsApp is taking serious actions against fake news. Recently in India’s tourist mecca of Jaipur, an open truck painted in the signature lime-green colors of WhatsApp messaging service pulls into a dusty lane. Five men spill out and begin to perform a skit.

Over 200 million people are using WhatsApp. This skit is a part of WhatsApp bringing awareness about fake news and mob violence. In the skit, actors reveal to crowd how spreading misinformation online can lead to mob violence.

They taught Rajasthan people on how to identify forwarded messages. WhatsApp took this action in India due to the pressure of Government. This campaign is being run in coexistence with Reliance Jio.

Mukesh Ambani is managing fast-growing telecom carrier. He recently made WhatsApp available on its $20 (Rs. 1500) JioPhone. This way JioPhone has connected tens of millions of low—income Indians to the internet for the first time. This skit is going to be a 10-city roadshow.

Hundreds of people from WhatsApp and Jio are helping to drive this campaign. WhatsApp is paying the cost of this campaign.

whatsapp hits the road with skits to stamp out fake news

Political Heat

WhatsApp started this battle against fake news in India recently. They launched this campaign in newspaper and radio channels. They tied-up with Delhi-based non-profit Digital Empowerment Foundation. The purpose is to develop a digital literacy curriculum for India.

WhatsApp said,

“Our goal is to drive one of the largest coordinated public education efforts on misinformation to date anywhere in the world.”

India’s technology minister has demanded WhatsApp to work on how to trace the origin of “sinister” messages. WhatsApp is not going to take this step. As it will require to weaken encryption and other privacy protections. This public information campaigns will change people’s behavior or not – it is not clear. In Jaipur, some of the messages seem to be getting through.

Bhawani Singh Rathore, 35-year-old teacher said that –

he could learn how to quit a WhatsApp group created by strangers and learned how to identify the forwarded message and not to send it ahead without checking accuracy.

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