In its continuous effort to curb fake information, WhatsApp has announced that it’s awarding $50,000 each to 20 researchers to investigate how misinformation spreads on its platform from 11 countries for a total of $1 million. This was coming after a call for research about fake news stories, out-of-context photos and rumours on WhatsApp, which have caused fracas in some part of the world like Brazil and India.
Lead researcher at WhatsApp, Mrinalini Rao was quoted t have said “We recognize this issue presents a long-term challenge that must be met in partnership with others. These studies will help us build upon recent changes we have made within WhatsApp and support broad education campaigns to help keep people safe.”
The research teams have been charged with the investigation of how misinformation spreads on WhatsApp and its impact on their respective environments. Research groups that will be receiving grants are from Brazil, India, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.
The winning research projects were picked from 600 proposals submitted. They will investigate misinformation in four core areas, which includes, digital literacy, election misinformation, Network effects and information processing of problematic contents.
This research awards aims to facilitate high-quality, and external research on these topics by academics and experts who are in the countries where WhatsApp is being used frequently.
This is not the first thing WhatsApp will be doing to curb the spread of fake news on its platform. Some months back, WhatsApp launched a feature that labels forwarded messages, which are frequently a vehicle for high number of fake news. The company also reduced the number of groups a user can forward messages to a go.
Additionally, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google have also putting some measure in place to stop the spread of fake news.
Twitter already has live streaming service that will rely on a partnerships with regional news station and allows the platform curate stories and select what footage will be live streamed.
For Facebook, Third-Party Fact-Checking Programme has been launched to curtail the spread of fake news, as well as YouTube rolling out a new feature that involves displaying of Wikipedia statements alongside videos that will give viewers more information on their content.
While Google introduced an initiative that will make credible news get more visibility online and fake news tend to get low traction.