Hyderabad: In an effort to further address the challenge of misinformation, WhatsApp has partnered with New Delhi-based Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) to create awareness among WhatsApp users about the need to verify information.
In the run up to the upcoming Assembly and General elections, DEF has committed to hold 40 training sessions for community leaders in 10 States across the country where there have been worrisome cases of violence and where there will be State polls before the end of the year.
DEF will help educate government officials, administration representatives, civil society organisations and students to help spread the word about this challenge. The training will encourage WhatsApp users to be more open towards other communities, to enable them to differentiate between opinions and facts, and to inculcate a habit of verifying information through simple checks before forwarding it to their friends and family.
In addition, DEF will incorporate this new training as part of their network of over 30,000 grassroots community members in seven States.
“As an organisation that is committed to taking the rural and marginalised population online, we also see this as our responsibility to ensure that they know how to keep themselves safe on the Internet, both from security threats and fake news. We at WhatsApp and DEF hope these training workshops will help build an empathetic and conscious community of WhatsApp users who learn to respond rather than react to every message they receive,” says Osama Manzar, founder – Director of DEF.
“Our goal is to help keep people safe by creating greater awareness about fake news and empowering users to help limit its spread. In addition to the steps we are taking within WhatsApp, we believe impacting lives through the power of education is critical to helping achieve the vision of a Digital India,” says Ben Supple, Public Policy manager at WhatsApp.
With the availability of smartphones and affordable internet plans, WhatsApp has over 200 million monthly active users. While WhatsApp has already taken several technological measures to curb the problem of misinformation (such as the ‘forwarded’ tag and limit forwarding to five chats at once), it is also eager to tackle the problem socially, it said in a statement.