Given the scourge of fake news and killings in India, WhatsApp has reportedly decided to develop a dedicated team to fight this menace. The Facebook-owned firm recently launched a new feature on the messaging platform, letting users know when a message has been forwarded and limiting the forwarding of a message to only five people.
It is now being reported that the company is looking to set up a team in India to work on this issue. WhatsApp mentions that they’re currently looking for a “local leader” to work “on the ground” in India. This is a consequence of the Indian Government asking WhatsApp to provide information on malicious people who spread fake news on the platform. It seems like WhatsApp’s recent update as well as newspaper ads didn’t do much as far awareness is concerned.
India, much like the several other countries, is currently facing polarization between communities driven by malicious forces on social media platforms. The government directed WhatsApp to take proper action or be held liable for the deaths of innocents. It is estimated that 30 people were killed last year and several injured following the spread of fake information on WhatsApp.
It’s unclear at this point if this team created by WhatsApp will be large enough to combat the issue head-on. It’s a much needed step, however, and it’s good to see the company taking the necessary steps to make sure there’s no repeat of past incidents.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging platforms in India, which makes this issue particularly concerning for the local authorities. With pretty much every news being shared on the platform, it’s understandable how fake news can also make its way into the platform.
Perhaps a team that can fact check news in real time will help curb the issue to a great extent, but details on the local team mentioned above are still pretty scarce. While the government wants access to people who share fake news, that constitutes a breach of the company’s privacy policies, so it’s a pretty tricky situation for WhatsApp. The platform has added several new features over the past couple of years, and it’s clear that this period will be very taxing on the company and its users.