WhatsApp has partnered with the Digital Empowerment Foundation to hold workshops on fake news across the country, Mint reports. “Our goal is to help keep people safe by creating greater awareness about fake news and empowering users to help limit its spread,” WhatsApp public policy manager Ben Supple said in a statement.
The government has been questioning WhatsApp’s role in lynchings across the country, which WhatsApp responded to in letters to the government and by putting out full-page newspaper ads about fake news. WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels also flew down to Delhi to meet IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
In those letters, WhatsApp said it was working with civil society to address concerns on fake news and the violence that comes from its spread. The company plans to hold forty training sessions in ten states, per Indian Express. DEF will leverage its presence in over 150 parts of the country to conduct these sessions for government officials, civil society, and students.
WhatsApp recently declined a request by the government to make sure messages are ‘traceable’, saying that this would interfere with user privacy.
Election efforts and NGO workshops
WhatsApp pointed out its meeting with the Election Commission in a letter to the IT Ministry, and said that it was working with civil society to educate new internet users. “We would like to work more with government and civil society to solve these problems together. We’re conducting digital literacy workshops with NGOs focused on community leaders and users to help educate them about the threat of misinformation — as well as running our own ad campaigns,” the company said, adding that it will soon be running radio ads on top of its full-page newspaper PSAs on spotting fake news.
On election integrity, it said, ”We are intensifying our election integrity efforts in advance of the Indian elections. During the recent Karnataka elections we detected dozens of WhatsApp accounts that were engaged in spammy behaviour — all of which we banned.” The ban of these accounts — WhatsApp didn’t disclose which party they were working for — was reported by the Washington Post in July.