New Delhi: WhatsApp has decided to start radio campaigns which will be asking people to check the information forwarded before passing it on to others, said reports on Thursday. This is a step towards cracking down on the spread of fake news via this social platform. The company has faced flak from the Centre over the circulation of fake news which reportedly led to a spate of mob lynching incidents across the country. (Also read: WhatsApp Says no to Trace Origin of Messages)
“The radio campaign will air across 46 Hindi-speaking stations of All India Radio (AIR) across Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told PTI. The campaign began Wednesday. The spokesperson said as of now, the campaign is available in Hindi but there were plans to offer the same in other regional languages as well. These campaigns tell users to verify the authenticity of messages before forwarding them and also to report content that they might find to be inflammatory.
WhatsApp has been slapped with two notices to check the spread of fake news. While adding some features which might help put a check on the spread of fake news, WhatsApp has not accepted the Centre’s demand for traceability of messages saying creating such a software will go against the idea of user privacy and end-to-end encryption. The Centre had warned the Facebook-owned company that it will treat the messaging platform as an abettor of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow if adequate checks were not in place. In a recent meeting with WhatsApp Head Chris Daniels, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had asserted that the company find a solution to track origin of messages on its platform, set up a local corporate entity that is subject to Indian laws within a defined timeframe as well as appoint a grievance officer.
The Supreme Court had issued notices to WhatsApp, the IT and the Finance ministries this Monday and sought a reply why a grievance officer in India had not been appointed yet. They have been given four weeks to file their reply, said reports.