Facebook-owned messenger app WhatsApp on Monday launched its first-ever Television campaign as part of its efforts to address the challenge of misinformation and fake rumours in India.
“It has conducted extensive research with users in India and then developed three ad films that are based on a real user’s experience,” WhatsApp said in a statement.
“The three films will be available on TV, Facebook, and YouTube in nine languages and reach the diverse population that makes up WhatsApp users. The campaign is timed to start just prior to the elections in Rajasthan and Telangana and WhatsApp will build on this effort headed into the national election next year,” the statement added.
These languages include English, Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu, Assamese, Gujarati, Marathi and Malayalam.
Filmmaker Shirsha Guha Thakurta will develop three 60 second films and each film will convey realm scenarios about dangerous rumours that can spread among users, WhatsApp said in a statement.
These ads, according to WhatsApp, will run on a diverse number of channels, including news and cinema, and will be followed up by online and print ads as well.
In addition, the protagonist in each film will teach someone important in their lives to not spread rumours and to use WhatsApp controls such as the ability to leave groups that could be propagating misinformation and how to block unknown senders, it said.
“We’re humbled by the impact that WhatsApp had on people’s ability to freely connect with their loved ones. We recognise at the same time connecting people can also lead to the spread of misinformation, which has to be confronted,” said Bosco Zubiaga, who led the production of these films for WhatsApp.
The app-based messenger, after facing flaks for misuse of its platform, has made a series of changes, including labelling forwarded messages to inform users when they have received something, not from their immediate contact and set a limit on how the forwarded messages can be sent.
In August, WhatsApp had also rolled out radio campaigns across various Indian states, asking people to check the veracity of information received as a forward before they share it with others.
“WhatsApp cares deeply about the safety of users in India and is committed to help addressing the challenge of misinformation in India by empowering users with new controls and working with local partners to step up education on this challenge,” said in a statement.
(With PTI inputs)