Both of the main parties – the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the opposition Congress – are exploiting the power of WhatsApp to try to influence India’s 900 million eligible voters.
WhatsApp, India’s most popular messaging platform, has become a vehicle for misinformation and propaganda ahead of the upcoming election. The Facebook-owned app has announced new measures to fight this but experts say the scale of the problem is overwhelming.
On 2 April the company announced a new project – Checkpoint – that allows users to send in suspicious messages in English and four Indian languages to a local media start-up Proto for verification. Users are told if the message is true, false, misleading or disputed.
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India poses a particularly complex problem for Facebook. It is WhatsApp’s largest market – more than 200 million Indians use the app – and a place where users forward more content than anywhere else in the world.