WhatsApp is treading where no media channel has gone before by bringing its ‘Spread Joy, Not Rumours’ message deep into rural India, filling a news vacuum which has been allowed a rising tide of fake news to spread unchecked.
The campaign brings power to the people in partnership with UK startup BuffaloGrid, which is developing a network of solar charging stations to provide electricity in remote villages where access to the power grid is non-existent or unreliable.
Locals taking advantage of the facility to charge their phones will be presented with a short message outlining the steps they can take to avoid succumbing to the scourge of fake news, including being able to identify groups spreading misinformation and blocking users with malign intent.
Writing in a blog post Sam Golden of BuffaloGrid remarked: “Across every continent, rumours spread across social media and the internet like wildfire. In the worst-case scenarios, misinformation can have deadly real-world implications.
“As a company on a mission to bring mobile power and internet to the next billion, we believe we have a responsibility to help people getting online for the first time truly understand these risks.”
In recent months WhatsApp has turned to academia to help contain the spread of misinformation in the wake of a series of scandals.