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WhatsApp To Block Numbers Which Spread Misinformation During Elections: Report

WhatsApp To Block Numbers Which Spread Misinformation During Elections: Report

WhatsApp has started blocking numbers which spread fake news

Election Commission flags such numbers and shares screenshot with WhatsApp

Recently WhatsApp joined hands with NASSCOM to educate people about fake news

After Facebook deactivated one million accounts every day for violating content rules, WhatsApp has also upped the ante against fake news.

The Facebook-owned messaging service has started blocking or disabling chats for those mobile numbers which are proved to be spreading fake news and objectionable election related content lagged by the Election Commission of India (ECI), ET reported.

The first such number was blocked before the voting started on 11th April and it is not clear whether the number will be enabled again to message through WhatsApp.

The requirement stated by WhatsApp to ECI for banning number was for the poll panel to share screenshots of such numbers with objectionable content or fake news in it.

ECI officials also reportedly confirmed that during the 48-hour silent period lead up to the election, apart from WhatsApp, 500 Facebook posts and link and two posts on Twitter were also removed.

Given that WhatsApp cannot remove messages, it is to be seen as to how the messaging service would adhere to the recently agreed voluntary code of ethics which social media companies were asked to follow.

With WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption, it cannot see the content of the message, making it difficult for the company to track fake news.

“We have worked with EC to explain how we maintain systems that work around the clock to identify and ban accounts engaged in bulk or automated messages. We will review and respond to lawful ECI requests when they have information about a particular WhatsApp account and take appropriate action,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told ET.

Before the elections WhatsApp had also introduced a telephonic tip line for its users to report misleading content and fake news. In this service, WhatsApp has created a system in which users can forward offensive messages to an automated account.

WhatsApp is working with a startup called Proto to classify messages sent to the service by users as true, false, misleading or disputed.

Last month NASSCOM Foundation and WhatsApp got into a partnership aimed at training approximately 1 lakh Indians to help them to spot false information and provide tips to stay safe on the platform.


Ankur Bhardwaj

Inc42 Staff

Having worked in media houses in three years of my career, I have done my graduation in English Literature and then pursued my post graduation in print media from Asian College of Journalism.

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