WhatsApp has again come under fire by the Indian government for being the app used to spread fake news and misleading rumors in various parts of the country. The company had already stated that it is taking the warning seriously and has started to adopt measures to curb the influx of the same.
WhatsApp is known to be testing a set of new features such as spam and suspicious link detection to circumvent the spread of false rumors. It has also launched a contest called ‘WhatsApp Research Awards for Social Science and Misinformation.’
WhatsApp says researchers can present proposals of what the company can do to solve the problem of fake news and rumours leading to lynchings. The incentive here is that it will provide awards of up to $50,000 in funding for the selected proposals.
WhatsApp has been the centre of controversy after multiple cases of mob lynching emerged from rumors circulated on WhatsApp. In an official statement, WhatsApp had said that, “WhatsApp cares about the safety of our users and is seeking to inform our understanding of the safety problems people encounter on WhatsApp and what more we can do within WhatsApp and in partnership with civil society to address the problem.”
The messaging giant has launched the first phase of the contest and is now accepting research proposals from any of the following areas of expertise – information processing of problematic content, election-related info, network effects and virality, digital literacy and misinformation, along with detection of problematic behavior while following the principles of encryption.
WhatsApp further goes on to say that each awardee will hold the intellectual property (IP) to their data and analysis. The company will only provide assistance and the awardee will develop conceptual tools, gathers and analyzes data, and/or investigates relevant issues.