Social media initiative to stifle fake news

Google, FB and WhatsApp raise stakes to tackle ‘fake menace’

The first shot was fired by social media behemoth WhatsApp when it released advertisements in Indian newspapers about identifying fake news.

This happened in the aftermath of a series of unfortunate incidents across the country that were triggered by fake news shared on social media.

In one of the incidents in Bidar, a techie from Hyderabad was chased, waylaid and smothered by villagers from Murki, on a suspicion of being a 'child-lifter'.

WhatsApp has even added a 'forwarded' sign that comes with a message that is not original.

Now Google and Facebook have raised the stakes in fighting fake news.

A few months back, Google rolled out a train-the-trainer programme with its Google News Initiative India Training Network.

The programme aims to train working journalists to create in-house experts who can help identify fake news. The trainers are expected to train journalists in digital tools like advanced search, reverse image search and other tools where even videos can be subjected to reverse image search to debunk fake news.

Google funding

Google is also funding 87 outlets through its Google News Initiative (GNI) YouTube innovation funding. The funding aims to help news outlets in 23 countries across the world in exploring live and fact-checking formats. In Hyderabad, Factly, a firm that has tried to push data driven information, is now collaborating with Google.

“We are partnering with Google where there will be a mark up of factcheck for information at the backend. The content will be ranked higher. The changes are already happening in the US and the West where there is something called featured content. Then there are cards marking out trusted content,” says Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu of Factly.

“Google is doing what can be done with search to produce results which shows trusted content. The fake news ecosystem has thrived on ad money. That is being disincentivised,” he says.

Curiously, Facebook has taken a community route to create a mechanism to stop rumours and fake news on its platform.


It is currently hosting a workshop on Community Leadership Circles in Berlin.

“The community leadership circle aims to build a community of admins in cities who can develop policies and control the content that is shared in the groups. They will be part of a network who can mentor and groom admins,” said Ravikant Reddy, among eight leaders chosen from India, to participate in the CLC programme in Berlin.

Facebook has also launched what it calls Integrity Initiatives to combat digital misinformation. It remains to be seen how the fight against fake news shapes up as Internet reaches the remotest corners of the country.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 5:45:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/social-media-initiative-to-stifle-fake-news/article25792481.ece

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