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WhatsApp launches a fact-finding service to fight fake news while polling in India



MUMBAI (Reuters) – WhatsApp on Tuesday launched a service for Indians to verify the credibility of the information, the latest attempt by the anti-fake news messaging platform in India on the eve of national elections that begin this month.

PHOTO PHOTOS: The WhatsApp Messaging application is visible on the phone screen on August 3, 2017. REUTERS / Thomas White / Photo Photo

WhatsApp stated in its statement that it works with the local Proto launch to classify messages sent by the service to users as true, false, misleading, or controversial. They also build a database of such content to better understand misinformation.

This step comes from the fact that WhatsApp, with more than 200 million users in India, is struggling to criticize its platform for spreading misinformation, while social media companies are working to prevent this phenomenon – especially under time of such sensitive events as elections. The WhatsApp Facebook Inc owner said on Monday that he had deleted 712 accounts and 390 pages in India and Pakistan for "non-authentic behavior", stating that many of them were affiliated with the Indian congressional congress and other related parties with Pakistani military.

The first stage of the Indian election is scheduled to begin on April 11, with the final results expected on May 23.

Major Indian political parties blamed each other for fake news propaganda at WhatsApp, denying that they do it themselves. In February, Chief Executive Officer WhatsApp said that the parties are trying to use this program "in a way that it was not intended." WhatsApp had a similar challenge during the Brazilian election last year when politicians faced claims of spreading lies on the platform.

"The purpose of this project is to study large-scale misinformation phenomena," the founders of Proto Ritwi Parrish and Nasr al-Hadi noted in the statement. "As more data flows, we will be able to identify the most susceptible or damaged issues, places, languages, regions, and more."

WhatsApp said that Proto will be assisted by two other organizations with expertise in disinformation projects.

"The problem of misinformation by the virus requires more concerted effort and can not be resolved by just one organization," said WhatsApp.

A new service, called Checkpoint Tipline, can receive messages in the form of images and videos, as well as text in English and four regional languages, he added. Checkpoint is a research project commissioned by WhatsApp.

Reuters received a message on WhatsApp containing false information and sent it to the service around 0640 GMT. He was still waiting for the classification more than two hours later.

"Thank you, we received your request, and you should hear from us again," said the answer.

Through-the-box WhatsApp encryption allows many groups of users to exchange text messages, images and videos beyond the control of independent auditors or even the company itself.

In July, the company introduced measures limiting the number of messages that the user can transmit to stop the massive victories in India, where the spread of rumors led to several murders and caused calls for government action.

Report by Sai Sachin Raviquamara; Editing Euan Rocha and Christopher Cushing

Our Standards: Principles of Trust to Thomson Reuters

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