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WhatsApp to fund 20 research projects into fake news, 6 in India

WhatsApp will fund research into fake news on the heels of receiving global backlash for being a catalyst towards the spread of fake news and misinformation. It will fund 20 research projects from 11 countries, including India, Brazil, Nigeria and focus on 5 themes including digital literacy and election-related misinformation. Poynter reports that the company will award a grant of $50,000 for each project, and a total of $1 million. In a statement, WhatsApp acknowledged that the impact of misinformation is a "long-term challenge". It said that the research is focused on countries where WhatsApp is frequently used and where research on fake news is limited. The company will now conduct a workshop at its headquarters for all the researchers, where it will "educate" them on the app, for their research "to be most effective". The research will not involve use of user data and are the researchers are independent of WhatsApp. With regard to India, which is its largest market, WhatsApp has roped in academics, civil society organisations and individual researchers, to carry out research on misinformation in or related to elections, mob violence, disease outbreaks, political conversation, with an overarching research into the nature of and factors that influence spread of fake news. Research topics based in India Seeing is Believing: Is Video Modality More Powerful in Spreading Fake News? - This will examine how different media - text, audio, and video - are vulnerable to misinformation. Digital literacy and impact of misinformation on emerging digital societies - This study will examine how vulnerability…

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