Fakes news is becoming an increasingly pertinent issue that is affecting everyone. Governments across the globe have come to realize the detrimental effect of fake news after the role they played in the US elections, and are now pressurizing their careers, which usually include social media and IM platforms, to take measures to curb them. Towards the same, WhatsApp has selected six teams who will research the spread of misinformation through its platform in India.

The move comes as a response to the increasing pressure the Indian government is bringing to bear on the company.

Earlier this year, WhatsApp asked its people to come up with proposals to research the spread of misinformation on its platform. Over 600 research teams responded to the call, and the company finally selected 20, on the basis of the proposals they had submitted. Each of these teams are receiving grants of $50,000, marking WhatsApp’s complete investment into the initiative as $1 Mn.

Speaking on the topic, Mrinalini Rao, lead researcher at the IM service said:

WhatsApp cares deeply about the safety of our users and we appreciate the opportunity to learn from these international experts about how we can continue to help address the impact of misinformation.

We recognise this issue presents a long term challenge that must be met in partnership with others. These studies will help us build upon recent changes we have made within WhatsApp and support broad education campaigns to help keep people safe.

The teams come from diverse nations, which include Brazil, India, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Meanwhile, 6 of these teams will be focusing their attention on India, where WhatsApp is the primary IM for a large section of the internet using populace. The topics these teams will be researching include: Video Modality More Powerful in Spreading Fake News?; Digital literacy and impact of misinformation on emerging digital societies; Social media and everyday life in India; WhatsApp Vigilantes; and WhatsApp messages and mob violence in India.

Once the research reports have been published, WhatsApp plans to hold a workshop in California to present the findings.

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