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Meta launches WhatsApp helpline to tackle fake news in India, update app to improve business features

Meta's WhatsApp partners with Misinformation Combat Alliance in India to tackle fake news and deepfakes, introducing a fact-checking helpline using AI.

By: HT TECH
Updated on: Feb 25 2024, 10:34 IST
WhatsApp and Misinformation Combat Alliance join forces in India to address the rise of fake news and deepfakes. (REUTERS)

Meta’s WhatsApp has announced a collaboration with the Misinformation Combat Alliance (MCA) to take on the sharp rise of fake news and deepfakes in India, especially as the country moves closer to its election dates.

Last week, Meta said that it will launch a dedicated fact-checking helpline on WhatsApp next month “to combat media generated misinformation using artificial intelligence which may deceive people on matters of public importance, commonly known as deepfakes, and help people connect with verified and credible information.”

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Commenting on the launch, Shivnath Thukral, Director of Public Policy India, Meta said, “We recognize the concerns around AI-generated misinformation and believe combatting this requires concrete and cooperative measures across the industry.”

Also read: Looking for a smartphone? To check mobile finder click here.

Thukral added, “The Deepfakes Analysis Unit (DAU) will serve as a critical and timely intervention to arrest the spread of AI-enabled disinformation among social media and internet users in India.”

Meta is not the only company that is having to step up its efforts in countering fake news in India. In December 2023, Youtube India also shifted its focus on delivering reliable news by trusted sources.

Improving WhatsApp Business Experience

Recently, WhatsApp India rolled out several new features to improve the WhatsApp business experience. According to Techwire Asia, “WhatsApp for Business has 50 million customers and around one-third of them (15 million) are Indian businesses.” Furthermore, WhatsApp has been and remains a popular chat app in India and despite some controversies regarding the app’s features, most Indian companies and consumers still prefer the app to any of the competitors that have arisen in the last few years.

WhatsApp is developing a public channel directory to help business users discover relevant channels based on categories and interests. This will make it easier for businesses to reach their target audience organically.

With over 500 million WhatsApp Business App users globally, the platform continues to rapidly evolve as a customer engagement and e-commerce channel. Disabling reactions is the latest way WhatsApp is empowering larger businesses to broadcast content more effectively.

WhatsApp Enables Channel Admins To Disable Reactions

Introduced in June 2022, WhatsApp channels provide a platform for one-way communication from businesses and organizations to their customers and followers. Administrators can share text, photos, videos and polls which users can react to with emojis.

According to a report by WABetaInfo, the latest WhatsApp beta for iOS now allows channel admins to turn off reactions if they choose. When reactions are disabled, channel followers cannot react to new updates with emojis.

Why disable reactions?

The feature gives channel owners more control over the conversation. By removing reactions, admins can keep the focus on shared content rather than emojis and side discussions.

It also prevents misinterpretation of messages. Reactions could potentially be misunderstood or misconstrued, so disabling them mitigates this risk.

Overall, the feature allows WhatsApp channels to operate more like traditional broadcast platforms with content flowing in one direction rather than two-way customer conversations.

(By Akriti Seth, Reporter, 150Sec)

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First Published Date: 25 Feb, 10:34 IST
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