NEW DELHI: To curb fake news and rumours on its platform ahead of general elections, WhatsApp on Tuesday launched ‘Checkpoint Tipline’, a service for Indian users to check the authenticity of information.
“Starting today (Tuesday), people in India can submit uncertain information or rumors they have received to the Checkpoint Tipline on WhatsApp +91-9643-000-888,” WhatsApp said in a statement.
Checkpoint Tipline, which is launched by a local media skilling start-up, PROTO, can receive suspicious messages from users in the form of images and videos, as well as text in English and four regional languages — Hindi, Telugu, Bengali and Malayalam — to verify them.
PROTO’S verification centre will then respond to say whether the information is true, false, misleading, disputed or out of scope and include any other related information that is available.
The new initiative by WhatsApp comes a day after its owner Facebook deleted a large number of accounts and pages linked to political parties for spreading misinformation.
WhatsApp, which has over 200 million users in India, has been facing bitter criticism over its platform being used to spread misinformation, particularly during sensitive events such as elections.
The government and election commission have recently asked the messaging platform to increase transparency of its working and take serious actions, so that it does not play any role in influencing the outcome of general elections.
“The goal of this project is to study the misinformation phenomenon at scale — natively in WhatsApp. As more data flows in, we will be able to identify the most susceptible or affected issues, locations, languages, regions and more. The verification reports we send back will encourage our grassroots-level “listening posts” to send more signals for analysis,” PROTO founders Ritvvij Parrikh and Nasr ul Hadi said.