(Image source from: Deccan Herald)
WhatsApp, an instant messaging service has announced on Wednesday that it is taking numerous steps in order to tackle the issue of fake messages on its platform, including testing a new label that highlights when a message has been forwarded versus composed by the sender.
The proclamation has been made in wake of the Government of India's missive to take immediate measures to prevent misuse of the platform.
The company likewise announced, "unrestricted monetary awards" for research on the spread of misinformation on its platform to address the issue.
"Like the Government of India, we're horrified by these terrible acts of violence and wanted to respond quickly to the very important issues you have raised. We believe this is a challenge that requires government, civil society, and technology companies to work together," the company said in its response to Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
The company said it believed that issues mendacious news, misleading information, and the spread of hoaxes were issues best tackled jointly by the government, civil society and technology companies working together.
It pointed out that recently a number of changes were made to group chats to prevent the spread of unwanted information, which they believe will address some of the specific issues raised by the government.
"We added new protections to prevent people from adding others back into groups which they had left, a form of misuse we think it is important to correct… we launched a new setting that enables administrators to decide who gets to send messages within individual groups," the company said.
It added that it has been testing a new label in India that highlights when a message has been forwarded versus composed by the sender. "This could serve as an important signal for recipients to think twice before forwarding messages because it lets a user know if the content they received was written by the person they know or a potential rumor from someone else."
The company further stressed that it is working to educate people about how to stay safe online, it said it will soon publish new educational materials around misinformation and conduct news literacy workshops.
By Sowmya Sangam