WhatsApp has drawn a considerable amount of flak in the recent times for acting as a channel for spreading fake, even receiving a warning from the Indian IT ministry to take necessary steps and stop the spread of false and incendiary messages on its platform.
To deal with the criticism, WhatsApp has released full-page newspaper ads in India which highlight some steps that can help users understand what news or information is being circulated on WhatsApp and how to check for its authenticity.
“To fight fake news, we all need to work together- technology companies, the government and the community groups. If you see something, that’s not true, make people aware and help stop the spread”, read one line in WhatsApp’s front-page newspaper ad.
The Facebook-owned messaging company mentioned 10 ‘easy steps’ that can help users identify whether the content being circulated on WhatsApp is true, or just false information being spread to hurt sentiments and incite violence. Here’s a quick rundown of WhatsApp’s preventive measures to educate users about ways to avoid such information:
- Starting this week, all forwarded messages will carry a ‘forwarded’ label. On receiving such messages, the recipient should fact check the message and verify the authenticity of the information in the message.
- Stories or reports of incidents which appear to be a little unbelievable or raise doubts should always be verified.
- In case of news reports, one should check whether other publishers have covered it or not, and if the incident has received widespread coverage, it is more likely to be true.
- Users should block users and exit groups which have a record of circulating false news and incendiary messages.
- Always check whether the photos or media content is doctored or not, and if possible, check the source from where it was shared or search for relevant news coverage on the internet.
- Users should always inquire about the reason behind the sharing of a content which rouses their sentiments, and if it was shared just to incite some upsetting response, they should refrain from sharing it.
- Spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and incoherent sentences are a sign that the information being shared is not from a credible source and is probably false.
- Always verify the links shared on WhatsApp, and if it raises any suspicion, don’t share it.
- In case you are not sure about the credibility of a news source or are concerned about the mass response a message may incite, don’t share it.
- Since fake news goes viral in no time, remain vigilant if the same information is shared with high frequency, and always double check it before believing it and spreading it further.