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Showing posts with label Fake news. Show all posts

WhatsApp's Latest Feature will Let Users Verify Forwarded Messages on Google


Owing to the lockdown due to the outbreak of the global pandemic Covid-19, people are once again resorting to their go-to messaging app – WhatsApp to spread misinformation in the name of information. Notably, WhatsApp has continued to be the most favorite platform for the circulation of fake news which also caused a number of untoward incidents in India.

It's mainly because of the rampant forwarding of messages created to promote individuals' or organizations' vested interests. While, public fear, unawareness, and lack of knowledge have a huge role to play in the equation of fake news and the consequences it had on the society, WhatsApp has constantly stood up to the issue and ensured to eliminate the flaws in its software.

The app has a massive reach across the globe with more than 2 billion active users and in an attempt to curb this circulation of misinformation, WhatsApp is reportedly working on a new feature that would allow users to verify the forwarded messages, helping them separate authenticated news from the fake ones.

As per sources, the tool will appear as a magnifying glass icon placed beside the forwarded messages on a user's WhatsApp, when the user will tap on the icon, a pop-up will appear asking him if he would like to search the message on the web, it will enable the user to directly upload the forwarded message on Google and verify the authenticity of the news.

“We are working on new features to help empower users to find out more information about the messages they receive that have been forwarded many times. This featuring is currently in testing, and we look forward to rolling it out in the near future.” WhatsApp told.

In a previous update, WhatsApp introduced a 'forwarded' label at the top of forwarded texts to make identification easier for the users.

The new feature by WhatsApp has already been sent out for testing and will be made available shortly for all the Android users and subsequently for the iOS users.

Is WhatsApp the new Coronavirus of Facebook?


The health officials and government authorities are trying their best to inform the public about the safety precautions amid the Coronavirus epidemic. But these health initiatives taken by the government and medical experts are constantly being threatened by one of the largest social media messaging platform. These messaging platforms are steadily spreading misinformation and fake remedies about the Coronavirus. Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp has received harsh criticisms over its handling of the Coronavirus situation because of the spreading of fake news and misinformation using WhatsApp about the Coronavirus epidemic, which has caused more than 8000 death and affected more than 2,00,000 people across the globe.


WhatsApp users send messages that most of the time are inaccurate and lack any legitimacy, say the medical experts. The problem has now become so troublesome that global health organizations and world leaders have asked people to stop forwarding and sharing unverified claims about Coronavirus and its cures using WhatsApp. Irish president Leo Varadkar on twitter asked the people to avoid sharing unverified news in WhatsApp groups. According to him, the WhatsApp messages are frightening and ambiguous. People should only trust official information from health and government sectors, he says.

The misinformation shared on WhatsApp mostly comes from forwarded messages by a friend of a friend or supposedly a doctor. Not all messages are incorrect, for instance, washing your hand to stay safe. One of the most circulated false claims on WhatsApp is 'drinking warm water every 15 minutes will prevent you from Coronavirus.' Because WhatsApp messages have end-to-end encryption, health officials and the government can't trace the source of misinformation. Even WhatsApp can't trace the source of messages.

"It is clear ... that a lot of false information continues to appear in the public sphere. In particular, we need to understand better the risks related to communication on end-to-end encryption services," said Vice President Věra Jourová, Europen Commission, on Tuesday. He also surveys the alliance's work to stop misinformation. "There are over a dozen [local fact checkers] so far, and we want more to be able to do their important work so rumors are identified and countered," said Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp, on Wednesday in a tweet.

Beware of Fake Videos on Facebook and WhatsApp!


Beware! People who have blind faith in the internet and tend to believe almost anything that they view or come across online, for there has surfaced a new medium for fearless dissemination of misinformation.

Fake news and modified pictures have already been wreaking havoc on social media and real lives of people for quite a long time now; leading to serious after-effects and reactions. Mob lynching, hate speeches and violent masses are few of the many upshots of such news and pictures.

At a time when the county was freshly getting used to fighting fake news and misinformation, a leading player joined the race, which goes by the name of “deepfake”.

Deppfake videos employ artificial intelligence to alter fake videos in such a way that they seem real to viewers. These videos are crafted with such ability that it becomes difficult for people to identify any possible lacunae.

These videos are so absolutely deceitful that the common person viewing them can’t remotely recognize or realize if, then what is wrong with them.

In latest times, the concept of morphed images is not new and hence people started to rely more on videos. But with deepfake, altering videos is possible too. In fact the operator could even manipulate actions and what is being said in the video.


Like every other fad that social media and its users accept with open arms, deepfake videos have a strong probability of making significant trouble on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook to name a few.

Another issue with these videos is the resolution they are available in. Most videos that are found on Facebook or WhatsApp are quite low on quality and hence it becomes all the more challenging to identify their bogusness.

These days political or any other kind of speeches of influential personalities are circulated generously across all of social media. With threat actors like deepfake videos, the ordinary speeches could be malformed to enflame the masses.

Sources mention that genuine looking fake porn videos could also be circulated online via deepfake. Especially the porn clips that are recorded through spy cameras can be effortlessly manipulated into any sort of personal or professional hazard.

The extremely effective notion of targeted adverting refers to placing information according to the needs of the audience. Deepfake videos open new avenues for negative targeted advertising and people who are looking forward to creating unrest in otherwise peaceful situations.

These videos are outstandingly dangerous because along with being imperceptible as fake they also hold the capacity to instigate populaces for a cause that may not even exist.


'Yes Bank' registers a complaint against fake news, alleging it of frightening investors


Yes, Bank filed a police complaint against fake news stating that misinformation was posted on social media concerning the bank's finance. The complaint was filed at Mumbai Police's Cyber cell when the investors withdrew their shares, and the capitals at the stock market hit a downfall. The bank's police complaint says that the fake news was scaring away its investors and depositors.



The rise of mobile internet in India has resulted in social tremors, with users falling prey to false information. Due to the lack of digital literacy, people are easily exposed to Fake News.

One of the biggest reasons is that fake news is usually engaging, and frightening which drives people to share them in a flash. It intends to create chaos among the general public. For a few days, some perpetrators are circulating fake news and ill-disposed falsehoods about Yes Bank on social networking sites and WhatsApp to generate fright among the bank's clients. The information seeks to present the bank in bad standing and is aimed to defame the bank's image among its clients, shareholders, and society.

"Yes Bank filed a charge by Mumbai Police and Cyber Cell on the propagation of fake news and advertising of lies about the bank's economic status on different social media platforms such as WhatsApp," said the bank in its report. The bank also asked the authorities to establish a committee of specialists to look over the issue of rumor-mongering and find the convict guilty of spreading fake news over social media platforms, they also requested the experts to find the origin of the fake news.

The bank requests its stakeholders and investors to be aware of false information. 'We assure our client that Yes Bank's financial standing is safe and reliable and would continue to be the same for a long time,' it says. It is no doubt that since the last few years, fake news has become a threat to Indian democracy and the people of India. Misinformation that is aggressively spread or shared through social media platforms causes chaos and distress among the public.

Postcard and Indiatimes in a List of ‘Fake News’ Websites?


A US-based non-profit journalism school, Poynter Institute for Media Studies, compiled a list of more than 500 websites "spreading false or misleading information" which shockingly featured two well-known Indian news websites, Postcard News and Indiatimes.

Apart from these two, there was also the mention of Indian news website Firstpost, at first but when the portal in question took to twitter to unequivocally protest its inclusion in the list, making accusations against the Poynter survey for "flippantly" overlooking "the daily journalism that Firspost [sic] hosts… the reputation it has gathered for equipoise”.

The list was thusly updated to remove Firstpost alongside a US-based media house. The survey being referred to was led by the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter Institute for Media Studies and the subsequent list of 513 websites 'believed' to have been related with unreliable news was released in a report called "UnNews: An index of unreliable news websites”.

Barrett Golding, who led the whole project, said on the website that the index was made based on lists that were “public and curated by established journalists or academics”, “contained original data” and expressed their criteria for inclusion, and characterized how they reviewed the various sites.

As of now when the two Indian news websites have been labeled "unreliable", India is yet to concoct a specific law to handle such counterfeit news or misinformation on websites as online media.

However, the Government doing the best it can, has appointed a committee under the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) the previous year to study more about the difficulties and challenges in online media, like fake news and malignant content, and concoct a strong structure to tackle them once and for all.

US: Fake News and Hike in Malicious Campaigns



'The internet is stacked with fake news sites in the present times,' says the research of Domain Tools, a security analyst company. The company scrutinized some top news sites of the U.S and examined their vulnerability to URL hacking and false domains. The false URLs may advertise misinformation and harmful malware, according to study. “As skepticism of traditional media continues to rise, defending the society from fake news attacks has grown relevant to the constitutional process,” says Corin Imai, a security advisor of DomainTools.

The fake news in recent times has attacked the credibility of news and raised questions concerning professional journalism. In present times, the media coverage is full of falsehoods and misinformation. The majority of the mainstream news sites can be held responsible for spreading fake news among the general public.

Why should one pay attention to fake news sites? 

'It’s no mystery that since recent times fake news campaigns are on a hike,' says Imai. 'The research shows that various top news websites' domain names have been tricked, and are vulnerable to URL hacking.' Honesty and assurance are the pillars of splendid consumer aid expertise. The study by Domain Tools reveals how wicked users do clever tricks like typosquatting and replicating domains as methods to wind up fake news campaigns.

Typosquatting, also called URL hijacking, is a technique that clings on internet users who accidentally type a wrong domain while searching for a news site on a browser. Whereas, spoofing is when a trickster acts as a genuine publisher of a news site. These unlawful actions can result in unauthorized stealing of user data, circulate fake news via spoofing news sites and, download dangerous malware into the user's system.

How to identify misinformation campaigns and stay safe from fake news sites- 

Fake news sites often benefit from user's browsing pace by hogging on their favored source of information. This can lead to data theft or vulnerability to fake news and malware.
Steps to avoid fake news-

• Beware of suspicious or doubtful domain names. Always pay attention to whether the web search is correct.
• Bookmark your preferred news site. This benefit in avoiding typos while searching for a news site.
• Visit the news website directly; avoid clicking on links that lead to news or information.
• Be digitally literate. Stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies happening over the internet.

By following these basic precautions, one can be safe from the risk of fake news.

Automated accounts sharing fake news ahead of French polls: Experts

French voters are being deluged with false stories on social media ahead of the country’s presidential election, though the onslaught of “junk news” is not as severe as that during last year’s U.S. presidential campaign, according to a study by Oxford University researchers.

A man looks at campaign posters of the 11th candidates who run in the 2017 French presidential election in Enghien-les-Bains, near Paris, France April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann.

The study to be published Friday and another published on Wednesday add evidence to complaints by officials in France, Germany and the United States that Russia is trying to replicate its cyber-powered election meddling in American politics.

Just days before France votes in the first round of a presidential election, the study said misinformation at times has accounted for one-quarter of the political links shared on Twitter in France. It defined “junk news” as deliberately false stories and those expressing “ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan or conspiratorial” views with logical flaws and opinions passed along as facts.

“French voters are sharing better quality information than what many U.S. voters shared and almost as much quality news and information as German users share,” according to the study by the Oxford Internet Institute, which will be published on Friday but was made available on Thursday to Reuters.

The French study uses data from a recent week on Twitter but a greater role is being played by Facebook, said Kevin Limonier of the University of Paris VIII, who is studying social media manipulation in the election with a grant from the French government.

Facebook recently suspended 30,000 suspected automated accounts in France. Although it characterized the cleanup as an objective move against spamming, many of the profiles were distributing politically driven misinformation and propaganda.

On Twitter, where automated accounts are allowed, many of the same accounts that promoted Republican Donald Trump in the U.S. campaign last year have turned their attention to pushing conspiracy theories and far-right viewpoints, according to Limonier and Clinton Watts, a former FBI agent and now a senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.

WhatsApp launches fact-check service ahead of General Elections in India





WhatsApp on Tuesday launched a new service called Checkpoint Tipline, for Indians to combat the fake news ahead of General elections beginning this month. 

The Facebook-owned company was working with a local startup PROTO, which aimed at creating a database of false, misleading or disputed. 

The initiative is funded by the WhatsApp to study misinformation spread ahead of the upcoming elections for Checkpoint

The company has set up a verification centre, which would verify posts that are in the form of pictures, video links or text. This center will cover four regional languages - Hindi, Telugu, Bengali and Malayalam, apart from English. 

"The goal of this project is to study the misinformation phenomenon at scale," Proto's founders Ritvvij Parrikh and Nasr ul Hadi said in a statement. "As more data flows in, we will be able to identify the most susceptible or affected issues, locations, languages, regions and more."

In a statement released by the WhatsApp said the start up Proto would be helped by two other organisations who have prior experience working on misinformation-related projects.

"The challenge of viral misinformation requires more collaborative efforts and cannot be solved by any one organisation alone," WhatsApp said.





Indian students create an app for detecting fake news





A team of Indian students from Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Delhi has developed an app WhatsFarzi for verifying a piece of fake news by using a custom logarithm.

The app is capable of scanning all the internet content, authenticate the images that could have been tampered.  “One of my students started researching on the rapid spread of fake content on Twitter and Facebook, which inspired him to develop a Google Chrome browser extension for both the platforms.

The continuous research by the team gradually gave birth to WhatsFarzi, which is now helping the vexed Indians to fight back such terrors”, said Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, associate professor at IIIT-Delhi.

WhatsFarzi is the concept of three students studying B.Tech computer science at the IIIT Delhi. The team includes  Madhur Tandon (22), Suryatej Reddy Vyalla (20) and Dhruv Kuchhal (23).

Suryatej Reddy, a third-year student, said, “We use a knowledge graph to extract relevant information from people, organizations, locations, and products available on the internet, update this graph with credible news and store it in a secured database. We follow this process to verify textual claims.”