WhatsApp selects 20 teams to fight fake news around the world, including India

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, announced Tuesday that it has selected 20 research teams around the world, including Indian and Indian experts, who will work to spread the misinformation and additional measures that the mobile messaging platform could take to fight against false information.

Shakuntala Banaji from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Anushi Agrawal and Nihal Passanha from Bengaluru-based media and arts group "Maraa" and Ramnath Bhat from LSE were selected for the newspaper "WhatsApp Vigilantes? WhatsApp messages and collective violence in India. "

The research examines how WhatsApp users understand and find solutions to the wave of "WhatsApp lynching" that has already killed more than 30 people.

The Indian government has also asked WhatsApp to take the necessary corrective measures to prevent the proliferation of falsified messages and, sometimes, motivated / sensational messages on its platform.

Vineet Kumar of the Cyber ​​Peace Foundation (Senior Researcher), Amrita Choudhary, President of the Cyber ​​Cafe Association of India (CCAOI) and Anand Raje of the Cyber ​​Peace Foundation, were also selected.

They will work as a team on the document "Digital Literacy and the Impact of Disinformation on Emerging Digital Societies".

P.N. Vasanti of the New Delhi Center for Media Studies will work with S. Shyam Sundar, senior researcher at Pennsylvania State University, will examine the role of content modality in vulnerability to misinformation, as part of the "See," is believing: is the video modality more effective to spread false information? "

WhatsApp launched a call for papers last July and received proposals from more than 600 research teams from around the world.

"Each of the 20 research teams will receive up to $ 50,000 for their project (for a total of $ 1 million)," WhatsApp said in a statement.

Lipika Kamra from O.P. Jindal Global University and Philippa Williams from Queen Mary University in London (lead researcher) will examine WhatsApp's role in everyday political conversations in India, in the context of the Indian social media ecosystem.

According to Mrinalini Rao, senior researcher at WhatsApp, the platform is deeply concerned about the safety of its 1.5 billion monthly active users worldwide and more than 200 million users in India.

"We appreciate the opportunity to learn from these international experts on how we can continue to help reduce the impact of misinformation," Rao said.

"These studies will help us take advantage of recent changes made by WhatsApp and support large-scale education campaigns aimed at keeping people safe," she added.

Recipients come from countries such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. -United.

WhatsApp has announced that it will be hosting them in California this week so they can hear from product managers on how it builds its product.

"Given the nature of private messaging – with 90% of messages sent between two people and the size of groups being strictly limited – we continue to educate and empower users and proactively combat abuse." said the company.

WhatsApp has recently put up a "transfer tag" to inform users when they receive a message that was not originally written by their friend or loved one. To combat abuse, WhatApp has also defined a maximum number of transmissions that can be sent.

In India, WhatsApp has partnered with the Digital Empowerment Foundation to train multi-state community leaders in the management of misinformation.

"We also broadcast ads in multiple languages ​​- print, online and over 100 radio stations – the largest public information campaign on misinformation in the world," the company said.

Sayan Banerjee of the University of Essex, Srinjoy Bose of the University of New South Wales and Robert A. Johns of the University of Essex will study "Disinformation in Various Societies" , political behavior and good governance.

Santosh Vijaykumar from Northumbria University, Arun Nair from the Health Systems Research Initiative in India and Venkat Chilukuri from the Srishti Institute of Arts, Design and Technology, are part of the team that will study vulnerabilities of misinformation in the elderly during outbreaks.