WhatsApp steps in to fight false news in Pakistan

SCI-TECH

KARACHI: Just a week before the crucial elections in Pakistan, WhatsApp has stepped in with a major public awareness campaign ‘Together We Can Fight False Information’ to combat fake news.

The top messaging app has published advertisements in newspapers detailing the steps users can follow to identify  false news circulating in the groups.

The issue of fake news has emerged as a new challenge for the media and governments across the world with many enacting new laws to combat the menace.

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion monthly active users (MAUs) who exchange nearly 60 billion messages on a single day.

In India, at least 22 people have been killed by mobs this year following fake rumours of child kidnapping and other crimes spread via WhatsApp.

Here in Pakistan too, the issue has attained importance amid the heightened political tension due to polls scheduled for July 25.

Here are  10 easy tips to help you decide if something sent to you is true:

  1. Understand When a Message Is Forwarded

The first point of the ad talks about the new feature introduced by WhatsApp to see which messages have been forwarded. It added, “Double check the facts when you’re not sure who wrote the original message.”

  1. Question Information That Upsets You

The second tip by WhatsApp says, “If you read something that makes you angry or afraid, ask whether it was shared to make you feel that way. And if the answer is yes, think twice before sharing it again.”

  1. Check Information That Seems Unbelievable

WhatsApp cautioned its users to not believe in stories “that seem hard to believe” and to verify them from some other source.

  1. Look out for Messages That Look Different

The Facebook-owned messaging app also cautioned the users to “look out for messages that look different” and to watch out for signs like spelling mistakes in order to determine accuracy of information circulated.

  1. Check Photos in Messages Carefully

WhatsApp particularly advised its users to be wary of photos and videos which are “edited” to mislead people. It said, “Sometimes the photo is real, but the story around it is not.” And also suggested the user to “look online to see where the photo came from.”

  1. And Check Links Too

The advisory also warned against failing into the trap  of “links to a well-known website.” It called for checking spellings or unusual characters because it is usually a sign something’s wrong.

  1. Use Other Sources

The messaging app also asked its users to check if a news is being reported at multiple places. It said, “When a story is reported in multiple places, it’s more likely to be true.”

  1. Be Thoughtful About What You Share

If you are not sure of the source or concerned that the information may be untrue, think twice before sharing,” it said.

  1. You Can Control What You See

WhatsApp also reminded its users to make use of the built-in features to block any number or leave any group they want.

  1. Fake News Often Goes Viral

The  users are told to “pay attention to the number of times a message is received” as the fake news “often” goes viral and just because “a message is shared many times, does not make it true”.