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Fighting Fake News
WhatsApp rolls out its first campaign to combat rumour-mongers

Shruti Venkatesh

Social media is not only addictive; it can also be a ticking bomb. WhatsApp, a social messaging app has turned into a weapon for spreading fake news in the country. To address this serious issue, the Facebook-owned app has rolled out its first integrated TVC in the world, ‘Share Joy, Not Rumors’ to address the challenge of malicious misinformation.

Conceptualised by Taproot Dentsu, the campaign showcases real life experiences with fake news, be it a family group or a rumour from a classmate. Each protagonist urges not to spread rumors and to use WhatsApp controls such as the ability to block senders and leave groups where rumours are spread. Neeraj Kanitkar, creative director, Taproot Dentsu, says, “We took a conscious call to not paint indiscriminate forwarders as offenders since often, the vast majority of people who forward such messages do it without intending any malice.”

The brief was simple – the majority of users use WhatsApp in a positive manner. But the spreading of rumours and fake news gets in the way of that experience. As for what the commercial seeks to achieve, Kanitkar says, “Often the right-thinking people choose to say nothing. We hope they can be like the protagonists shown in the film and take on a more active role.”

Over the months, WhatsApp has made a series of changes which includes placing a label on forwarded messages to inform users when they have received something not from their immediate contact and a putting a limit on forwarded messages. Bosco Zubiaga, production head, says, “Connecting people can also lead to the spread of misinformation, which has to be confronted. We hope this campaign will help educate people how to stay safe on WhatsApp.”

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