WhatsApp is the ideal platform to spread disinformation. AI makes it even more dangerous.
Bad actors target disinfo to WhatsApp groups that only group members can see and are closed to the public. Bad actors use AI to tailor the message to their target audience to make them more believable. WhatsApp/META has few checks on disinformation so harmful messages go viral before they're detected by fact checkers. It's even harder to track and counter WhatsApp disinfo in language other than English. It's a dangerous combination.
Indian American Impact (IAI) fights disinformation on WhatsApp with the help of the Meedan service. Meedan is a global technology not-for-profit that addresses the crisis of information trust and harmful content through tools that quickly verify content and provide a rapid response.
How do you collect possible disinformation from closed WhatsApp groups? How can the accuracy of messages be quickly verified? How can the truth be shared with people in that WhatsApp group? This is how IAI fights WhatsApp disinfo with Meedan.
How it works
Imagine a message like दूध पिएं is posted into a closed WhatsApp group. Most fact checkers wouldn't see it, and unless you spoke Hindi wouldn't understand it. (It means 'Drink Milk'.
Then someone posts कोविड से बचने के लिए पिएं दूध which means 'Drink milk to avoid COVID'.
An IAI volunteer in the WhatsApp group which this message was posted is suspicious. They report it to Meedan via WhatsApp.
The Meedan chatbot automatically checks the message against a network of fact checkers to see if it is true.
The chatbot sends a WhatsApp message back to the volunteer telling him that it is false.
The volunteer posts the correct message back into their WhatsApp group to correct the disinfo.
Meedan works globally and supports fact-checkersin 10 countries and 17 languages.
Meedan is a global technology not-for-profit that builds software and programmatic initiatives to strengthen journalism, digital literacy, and accessibility of information online and off. It develops open-source tools for creating and sharing context on digital media through annotation, verification, archival, and translation.
- It addresses the crisis of information trust and harmful content through better workflows and tools that help teams contextualize and verify content, with quick turnarounds and broad reach.
- Meedan works with civil society organizations through capacity building efforts that help maximize their ability to engage with the new dynamics of the internet while ensuring their own sustainability as organizations.
- It seeks to generate data sets and qualitative findings that enable research, expand knowledge, and build practical responses for contemporary information challenges.
Volunteer powered Truth Squad
"DesiFacts, is a project of Indian American Impact and the first South Asian American fact-checking website. It regularly publishes articles (in Hindi, Bengali, and Tamil, too!) that fact-check the latest claims going viral on WhatsApp, social media kits and graphics you can use to proactively spread accurate content in your own networks, and resources for how to identify fake news, we hope DesiFacts is your one-stop shop for combating the onslaught of misinformation in South Asian communities.
Want a claim fact-checked and written about on DesiFacts? Contact us or send a message to our WhatsApp tip line at +1-610-580-0377.
JOIN their VOLUNTEER WHATSTRUE CREW! to curb the spread of misinformation. You’ll join a community of other volunteers ready to proactively counteract misinformation by spreading accurate updates via a multilingual website and WhatsApp messaging. We’ll also share weekly tips for how to counter misinformation with your friends and family. No experience necessary– there’s a role for everyone so sign up today to learn more!
How AI makes WhatsApp disinfo more dangerous
Jason Goldman is the former Chief digital officer in the Obama White House. He was earlier at Twitter and Google. He explains in a YouTube video interview who AI created disinfo could disrupt the 2024 election.
"...Presidential campaigns uh are decided by relatively few number of people in in very well known places and so all you need to do is try to figure out something that kind of continually pushes that group um using some kind of you know using some some kind of synthetic media and that's like a net positive and it's very cheap to do that and you can do that in a non-overt way you can just find the right you know WhatsApp group you can find the right um you know Facebook group and you can just kind of sort of create a trickle of content before it's even detected as being fake you know there's this there..."
TakeAway: Recruit volunteers on WhatsApp groups to fight disinformation with Meedan just like Indian American impact.
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