The Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging platform on Tuesday published full-page advertisements in top Indian newspapers to tackle the spread of fake news through its app.
"Just because a message is shared many times, does not make it true."@WhatsApp goes old-school to fight it's fake news problem in India — its largest market — with full-page newspaper ads. https://t.co/TTn8wphe0Z pic.twitter.com/CJAlrb0wk7— Rishi Iyengar (@Iyengarish) July 10, 2018
This is probably the first time that the tech giant has employed conventional media to fight a crisis.
The full-page advertisement to which people in major Indian cities woke up reads: "Together we can fight false information."
"We are starting an education campaign in India on how to spot fake news and rumors," a WhatsApp spokesman was quoted by the PTI as saying.
"Question information that upsets you", says WhatsApp's full-page advertisements. Clearly the solution to declining newspaper ad revenues in India will come from how we tackle our digital fake news crisis. pic.twitter.com/3h5XyJeMIr— Anuj Srivas (@AnujSrivas) July 10, 2018
Last week, replying to a notice by the Indian government to take immediate measures to prevent misuse of its platform, WhatsApp had said that it was testing a new label that highlights when a message has been forwarded. https://t.co/fxaGcF5oKH— The Hindu (@the_hindu) July 10, 2018
"Our first step is placing newspaper advertisements in English and Hindi and several other languages. We will build on these efforts," the spokesman added.
WhatsApp, in a letter addressed the IT ministry, stated that it was tweaking features and giving users control in its effort to rein in false messages. WhatsApp has further said that it is testing the labeling of messages to show users when a message received is just a forward, rather than one created by the sender.
However, there are also many who believe that fake news has already spread like wildfire and newspaper campaigns might not be an effective method to contain the issue.
FACEBOOK Buys Print Ads To Counter 'Fake News' On WHATSAPP… https://t.co/7CHZHp81ba
— DRUDGE REPORT (@DRUDGE_REPORT) July 10, 2018