WhatsApp to use All India Radio to caution on fake news

Instant messaging app WhatsApp on Wednesday declared that it would launch an awareness drive through radio to prevent spread of fake news. As part of the drive, people will be told to verify any news before forwarding the same.

The drive by WhatsApp will be conducted in association with the All India Radio (AIR) in several states, including Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The message will initially be delivered in Hindi and later in other regional languages. The recipients of provocative messages on WhatsApp will also be asked to report the matter to authorities. They will also be cautioned against forwarding any such message.

This comes even as the Supreme Court has asked Facebook-owned WhatsApp, IT and Finance Ministry as to why a grievance officer has not been appointed in India yet. The top court has sought a reply within four weeks.

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The central government had last week asked WhatsApp to set up a local entity with a grievance officer and find a technical solution to trace the origin of fake messages.

WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels was recently in India and met top government official including union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to discuss the ways to clamp down on fake news on its messaging platform that had led to series of horrific crimes in the country like mob-lynching.

The government has sent out two notices to the Facebook-owned company directing it to take urgent measures to curb false information and rumours being spread on the messaging platform.

The IT ministry has, in the past, said that the platform cannot escape its responsibility for such rampant abuse and needed to find originators of provocative messages. It had also warned that in the absence of adequate checks, it will treat the messaging platform as abettor of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow.

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