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Truecaller’s new in-app chat to fight spam and misinformation

Truecaller is launching an in-app chat feature to fight spam and misinformation. The feature is currently in beta stage and will roll out globally by next week, Truecaller told to MediaNama. “We are well-positioned to solve this problem [of spam and misinformation], given that we have been doing it for years for both calls and SMS,” Rishit Jhunjhunwala, global vice-president of product at Truecaller, told MediaNama.

Truecaller offers a spam caller ID and spam SMS ID on its app. Both these features are based on users reporting numbers which regularly send spam.

  • Truecaller claims to have 100 million daily active users globally, and slightly over 50 million in India.
  • In India, the app is available in 10 languages, although it is primarily used in English and Hindi in the country.

Truecaller’s approach to spam and misinformation

  • User–based reporting: The app will primarily rely on Truecaller’s existing user base to report spam and fake content. “If you receive a link from a friend that you believe is fake or spam, you can mark it. Once we have enough signals from the community that this is a spam link, we will run it through our algorithm which we have trained over years,” said Jhunjhunwala. 
  • Spam numbers ID: The app will have a spam registry for instant messages, similar to their Spam Caller ID and SMS ID.

Jhunjhunwala added, “We are not going to bank on users 100%. We have trained our algorithm to not mark content spam just on the basis on user reporting. Other factors like age of user, reporting reputation, how often and how correctly they have reported inaccurate news; all these are used to decide how much weight we should apply on each user’s reporting.

User based identification of spam

Truecaller will rely on user reporting for fake news and spam content for now.

  • Machine Learning at a later stage: Jhunjhunwala said the app will “analyse the content of the messages, apply machine learning and then detect and mark it as fake or spam” in the near future. “We understand that fake news is not spread just through links, but via images and videos as well. Spammers always know how to circumvent the system.” he added. Truecaller is already working on a product to solve this, where users will be able to mark media and warns others about content which needs to be distrusted. 
  • Tie-ups with news publications and fact-checkers: Truecaller is in initial talks with news organisations and fact-checkers to combat fake news. The company did not comment on the timeline of such tie-ups, the kind of these organisations, or named them. The company did say that the partnerships will be made at a global level, and not specifically for India.

Truecaller’s financial services

  • Truecaller Pay: In March 2017, Truecaller jumped on the UPI bandwagon, partnering with ICICI Bank to launch a UPI payments services — Truecaller Pay.
  • Chillr acquisition: In June this year, the Swedish company acquired payments app Chillr to provide financial lending to users.

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I cover health, policy issues such as intermediary liability, data governance, internet shutdowns, and more. Hit me up for tips.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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