After being pulled up by the government to take concrete steps to stop the spread of misinformation and fake news on its platform, Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Wednesday said it has launched the second phase of its radio ad campaign in the country to create awareness and empower users.
The first phase of the educational campaign was kicked off on August 29 with ads across 46 radio stations of All India Radio (AIR) in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
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The second phase of the campaign started on Wednesday on September 5 with radio ads across 83 AIR radio stations in Assam, Tripura, West Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.
These campaigns will run in eight regional languages -- Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Telugu, Oriya and Tamil -- for a 15-day duration, WhatsApp said in a statement.
The campaign has been designed in an easy to understand format to help user's spot misinformation and further sensitize them about the challenges of fake news and addressing these as a society.
"WhatsApp stands committed in its efforts to address these issues jointly with civil society, stakeholders and the government," the company said.
These radio campaign highlights tips like understand when a message is "forwarded"; check information that seems unbelievable and photos carefully; question information that upsets you and be thoughtful about what you share.
WhatsApp has also roped in New Delhi-based non-profit Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) to create awareness among its users about the need to verify information.
"Our goal is to help keep people safe by creating greater awareness about fake news and empowering users to help limit its spread," Ben Supple, Public Policy Manager at WhatsApp, said in a statement.
As part of the new partnership with WhatsApp, DEF has committed to holding 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.
In a meeting with WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels on August 21, Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad instructed the Facebook-owned platform to comply with the law of the land and take "suitable" steps to prevent its misuse.
The meeting took place after several lynching incidents were linked to the spread of misinformation on the instant messaging platform which has over 200 million monthly active users in India.
WhatsApp has also taken some technological measures to curb the problem of disinformation, including the introduction of the "forwarded" tag and limiting forwarding to five chats at once.
"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'," Supple added.
It is pertinent to mention here that before the state and general elections the amount of fake news increases to a large extent. Lok Sabha elections 2019 is scheduled to take place in the months of April-May. Before it, assembly elections are also slated to take place in four states.