These organizations are fighting misinformation in India — with WhatsApp
Garlic to kill the coronavirus? Lemon juice up your nose to cure Covid-19? With misinformation like this, India has been the number one originator of Covid-19 fake news during the pandemic. It comes as no suprise, as 90 percent of the population is not digitally literate. Fighting digital misinformation is therefore a huge task for the country. Yet, some organizations have set out to change this—with WhatsApp.
As the entire world was struggling to fight a viral pandemic, India was also facing another crisis: the viral spread of misinformation online. People shared “articles” that incorrectly claimed that you could cure Covid-19 with garlic, steam inhalations, or by running lemon juice up your nose.
A Canadian study from the University of Alberta concluded that in 2021 India was the world’s biggest source of Covid misinformation. The study looked at the spread of misinformation from 138 countries. They found that one in six pieces of fake information around the pandemic came out of India.
And the biggest originator of misinformation turned out to be social media, making up roughly 85 percent of it.
That’s no coincidence. Even though, as of 2021, India counts 825.3 million internet users in a population of 1.38 billion people, 90 percent of Indians are not digitally literate. Telling fact from fiction when sharing a story on social media is therefore a big challenge for a lot of consumers of online news. And that’s exactly what some organizations are trying to fight—by using India’s favorite social media app, WhatsApp.
THIP Media uses WhatsApp chatbot for fact-checking health information
The Indian Health Project (THIP Media) launched a WhatsApp chatbot named RAKSHA that helps subscribers to fact-check health information they find online.
Subscribers gain access to general health information through THIP’s WhatsApp channel. In addition, users can also take a health quiz, which makes it more fun to learn about important health facts.
In order to be able to implement the fact checking program, THIP Media opted to use the Messenger Communication Platform from MessengerPeople by Sinch. The software gives companies access to the WhatsApp Business API (now called the WhatsApp Business Platform), and includes many tools, such as being able to send out push notification to a user’s smartphone or integrating chatbots.
The Messenger Communication Platform is also ensures data protection for users. This is not only important for legal reasons, but also for building more trust for the fact checking organization.
💡 Learn how the state of Telangana uses a chatbot to keep its citizens informed 24/7
In order to get access to the THIP health fact checker, just send “Hi” to the number +91-85078-85079 on WhatsApp.
Newschecker: Using WhatsApp to stop the spread of misinformation in India
Another organization that is commited to stopping the spread of false information online is Newschecker. Newschecker doesn’t only double-check facts from media outlets, political parties or governments, it also verifies claims that are spread on social media. While the organization has its own investigators for reviewing articles and claims, it also gathers information from the public to spot and find misleading information.
One of the best ways for Newschecker to get users involved is to use India’s number one messaging app: WhatsApp. If users find suspicious content, they can contact Newschecker directly on their WhatsApp channel. It’s a clever way to gather more information, and stop the spread of misinformation faster.
Newschecker offers their fact-checking expertise in multiple Indian languages, which is very important in a country that recognizes more than 20 official languages.
And the organization doesn’t only use WhatsApp to gather information from users. They also use the messaging app to inform readers about fake information that might be circling the internet. Their WhatsApp fact checking tool is therefore a two-way-street for fact checking. This makes it a lot more efficient at both, reaching out to users and finding misinformation.
As Newschecker has to handle many incoming messages, the organization also decided to use MessengerPeople’s Messenger Communication Platform. The platform comes with a ticketing system, where all incoming chats can be handled centrally on one platform. From there, it’s also possible to assigned a chat to a specific team members. This makes it easy to distribute incoming questions to investigators, while making sure that no query is overlooked.
Both, Newschecker and THIP are proving that social media cannot only spread misinformation, but also has the power to fight it!
What’s new in the world of messaging? Stay up to date with our newsletter!
More interesting articles about WhatsApp and messaging