WhatsApp has announced the launch of #YouSaid, a campaign aimed at educating people on how to scrutinize and verify the information they encounter before sharing it. The campaign is aimed at reducing the spread of false news in Nigeria.
According to Statista, 48.12% of the Nigerian population have access to the internet via mobile devices and penetration is projected to grow to 659.7% in 2026. With increased access to information and the endless resources on the internet, more people need to be educated on the do’s and don’ts of internet usage.
Any frequent user of WhatsApp in Nigeria must be accustomed to broadcasts and posts created and shared from various groups to the mass public. While some are motivational and insightful, others are speculative stories about happenings in the society.
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, news was circulated on various platforms in Nigeria like WhatsApp, that different herbal treatments and substances could cure the virus. A substance like chloroquine was consumed by many people leading to severe health complications. This is an example of the negative implications of false news being shared on social channels, which is what the campaign seeks to curb.
The campaign offers tips on how to spot false news and assess the authenticity of the news before sharing to others by encouraging people to think carefully and check credible sources to validate any news they encounter.
Akua Gyekyem, WhatsApp Public Policy Lead commented on the launch of the campaign saying “At WhatsApp, all personal messages are protected with end-to-end encryption because the safety and security of our users and their messages is important to us. ”. He said the company is committed to creating a safe space for WhatsApp users to communicate privately. He further encouraged everyone to verify any information they receive and confirm whether it is true or false before sharing it with other people.
“Regardless of the person you received the information from, as soon as you share any information, it becomes something people think #YouSaid. Our hope is that this campaign will open up a conversation on the importance of verifying information and thinking carefully about what people read, trust and choose to share” Gyekye added.
4 easy ways to reduce the spread of false news on WhatsApp
- Understand what a ‘Forwarded’ message means: Any message that has the ‘forwarded’ label (an arrow or double arrow icon) did not start with the person who sent it to you. They will also have received it from someone else before passing it on to you. If you are not sure the information is true, do not forward it to someone else without verifying it. A double arrow icon and “Forwarded many times” label will be displayed when a message has been forwarded more than five times since it was originally sent and will restrict sharing to just one chat at a time.
- Always fact check information with other sources: False news can go viral, and photos, audio recordings, and videos can be edited to mislead you. If you’re unsure whether a message is true, check trusted news sites to see where the story came from. When a story is reported in multiple places and from trustworthy sources, it’s more likely to be true.
- Look out for messages that look different: If you receive messages that have such things like misspelled words, wrong dates, awkward layouts, unrelated pictures and web addresses (URLs), it’s a sign that the information could be false.
- Read the message objectively: Don’t let what you think you know get in the way of your judgment. Review the facts yourself before sharing information. Stories that seem hard to believe are often untrue.
WhatsApp currently protects the personal communication of over two billion users all over the world, securing it with end-to-end encryption by default.
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