hatsApp wants to fight the problem of fake news, misinformation and lies that spread through the chat app. It’s not that the problem is new. But of late, since it came to light that malevolent viral messages on WhatsApp directly or indirectly led people to lynch over two dozen in various parts of India, there is an urgency to deal with it. WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook which too is fighting misinformation on social media, wants to show to the world it is doing something. To show its intent, the company took out full-page ads in almost all major dailies in India on July 10, trying to educate Indians on how to spot of misinformation. The question, however, is why ads and not some direct communication.
And another question: is it the best WhatsApp can do?
In India over 200 million people use WhatsApp and the ones that are most likely to believe in misinformation and lies that go viral on the chat app are the people who are also least likely to read the major newspapers in India. Most of the people who will end up believing in the viral message on WhatsApp and then end up being a part of the mob that lynches someone aren’t the people who read the Times Of India.
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