|

Elections

WhatsApp offers tips to spot fake news ahead of Pakistan's general election

The awareness campaign aims to curb the viral spread of false information.

AFP


Pakistani youth July 16 in Rawalpindi drive along a road beside campaign posters for the July 25 general election. WhatsApp is combating fake news that could mislead voters. [FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP]

Pakistani youth July 16 in Rawalpindi drive along a road beside campaign posters for the July 25 general election. WhatsApp is combating fake news that could mislead voters. [FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP]

ISLAMABAD -- The WhatsApp messaging service began a week-long publicity campaign in Pakistan Wednesday (July 18), offering tips to spot fake news days before the general election July 25.

"Together we can fight false information," says a full-page ad in Dawn, Pakistan's leading English-language daily, listing ten tips on differentiating rumours from fact.

"Many messages containing hoaxes or fake news have spelling mistakes. Look for these signs so you can check if the information is accurate," it says.

"If you read something that makes you angry or afraid, ask whether it was shared to make you feel that way. And if the answer is yes, think twice before sharing it again."

WhatsApp also implemented a feature that allows recipients to see if a message is original or forwarded.

Potential for rumours and violence

Millions of residents use WhatsApp in Pakistan, where rumours, false information and conspiracy theories are ubiquitous. Such messages spread quickly, with no real way for recipients to check their veracity.

Pakistan has a history of mob violence, and videos depicting events like the murder of Mashal Khan -- a journalism student accused of blasphemy who was killed by a mob in Mardan in April 2017 -- circulate rapidly.

WhatsApp separately launched an awareness campaign in India July 10 after a wave of lynchings in the country was linked to viral "fake news" spread on the messaging app about alleged child kidnappings.

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, has come under pressure from Indian authorities to put an end to the spread of rumours, which have caused more than 20 deaths in the past two months.

Do you like this article?

Pf icons no 8

Comments 0

* Denotes required field
Captcha