Ahead of polls, WhatsApp unveils fact-check service developed by Indian startup Proto

Ahead of polls, WhatsApp unveils fact-check service developed by Indian startup Proto
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Pixabay
2 Apr, 2019

In the latest attempt to combat fake news ahead of national elections beginning this month, Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp unveiled a service called Checkpoint Tipline, where users can send information for verification and fact-check.

Checkpoint Tipline, launched for WhatsApp by Indian startup Proto, aims to create a database of rumours and misinformation circulating during poll season in a bid to combat fake news.

Users can forward suspicious text messages, videos or pictures to the number 91-9643000888, following which Proto will classify them as true, false, misleading, disputed or out of scope. The verification service is available in English, Hindi, Telugu, Bengali and Malayalam.

Checkpoint Tipline was developed by Proto with help from Dig Deeper Media and Meedan, which worked on verification support for the fact-checking platform. Meedan has also integrated its open web platform for verification, Check, with WhatsApp’s business API. The tool was used during election season in Hong Kong and France.

The move comes after the Election Commission convened on 19 March a meeting of social media companies including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google, TikTok, Bigo TV and ShareChat. The meeting discussed the appointment of a dedicated grievance channel for fast action by social media platforms on the spread of misinformation and fake news as well as pre-certification for political advertisements.

Previously, a parliamentary committee had called representatives of Facebook group companies, including WhatsApp and Instagram, to discuss measures taken to safeguard the rights of the users.

As part of its pre-election measures to counter the spread of misinformation, WhatsApp recently announced a partnership with Nasscom Foundation, the social arm of Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies), for digital literacy and training initiatives.