Mobile Internet

WhatsApp’s helpline is actually a means of research

Money right beside WhatsApp

WhatsApp is India’s Achilles heel when it comes to the 2019 elections. It is something India needed to work on beforehand and it did not happen. The Indian government did try to cut down on the misinformation and fake news, however, it did not happen to a great extent. The company could not manage to help the Indian authorities as the latter was asking to change the privacy policies so that the necessary actions could be taken.

There are a lot of things the Facebook-owned company could do but there were limitations given that WhatsApp is extremely strict about its privacy policy, unlike its owner. That said, the company had entered into a fight with the government and the WhatsApp head even talked about leaving India but that is not an option for the American company which has around 200 million users in India.

That being said, the company had talked about setting up a helpline for the Indian people who are falling prey to the fake news. The Checkpoint Tipline was set for the people and the number was displayed everywhere. However, it is too late for WhatsApp to take any action on the misinformation as the general elections start the country-wide voting on 11th of April. This is still not a failure as the misinformation informed and noted down will be used to form a database and study the type as well.

The helpline was announced on 2nd April and it was with the local organization Proto which was helping the American company get over this saga of misinformation. That said, the company put out a statement which talked about how Proto will help WhatsApp research the misinformation. The company said, “This combined effort by WhatsApp and industry organizations will help contribute to the safety of the elections, by giving people means to know if the information is verified and deter people from sharing rumors that have no basis in fact.”

Proto also clarified its stance in this partnership. It said that over the next four months the company will help research the misinformation reported and finally curb this omnipresent problem. It said, “Over the next four months, we expect to aggregate these signals at scale, to better understand how misinformation during large events of public interest in India such as the elections spreads across languages, regions, even issues.”

People initially thought that WhatsApp was going to deal with the misinformation if not anything else. However, that is not true in any case as the company is only going to study the misinformation.

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