WhatsApp on said it is expanding its radio campaign to 10 more Indian states, including Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal.
The Facebook-owned company has been on an overdrive after it faced severe criticism from the government over the circulation of fake news on its platform that incited multiple incidents of mob lynching across the country.
WhatsApp kicked off the first phase of its radio campaign — which urges users to check the veracity of information received as a forward before sharing it with others — on August 29 in seven states including Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
“The second phase of the campaign starts on September 5 with radio ads across 83 radio stations of AIR across the states of Assam, Tripura, West Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana, Orissa and Tamil Nadu,” WhatsApp said in a statement. These campaigns will run in eight regional languages — Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Telugu, Oriya and Tamil and will run for a 15-day duration, it added.
“The campaign has been designed in an easy-to-understand format to help users spot misinformation and further sensitize them about the challenges of fake news and addressing these as a society,” it noted. These campaigns advise users to verify the authenticity of messages before forwarding them and to report content that they might find to be inflammatory.
The government had warned WhatsApp that it will treat the messaging platform as an abettor of rumor propagation and legal consequences will follow if adequate checks are not put in place.
“WhatsApp stands committed in its efforts to address these issues jointly with civil society, stakeholders and the government,” the company said in its statement. In a recent meeting with WhatsApp Head Chris Daniels, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had asserted that the company find a solution to track origin of messages on its platform, set up a local corporate entity that is subject to Indian laws within a defined timeframe as well as appoint a grievance officer.
India is a key market for WhatsApp, which has over 1.5 billion users globally, as it has more than 200 million in India.