The Karnataka elections saw BJP and Congress set up over 50,000 WhatsApp groups between them. They could send an unverified, encrypted message to millions in a few seconds. And they did.
This also means that your rabid right-wing uncle can share a divisive drivel in your family group before you can say ‘Tejo Mahalaya’. Of course, your mom will never believe it is fake news. The digital squadron of political propaganda machines understands that they need to create self-propagating beliefs that are seemingly based on hard facts. So they are constantly arming this uncle (and other such nincompoops) with yarn and garbage to share.
Mexico has a similar problem (tío loco) ahead of its general elections slated for 1 July this year. So Animal Politico, AJ+ Espanol, and Pop-UP Newsroom have created a collaborative election reporting initiative called Verificado 2018 across multiple social media platforms. But what they are doing on WhatsApp is particularly cool and probably relevant for us in India.
In WhatsApp, they have created a non-invasive individual relationship with users that will work within the black box. So how do you use Verificado?
- You can add Verificado as a contact on WhatsApp (and on Facebook or Twitter too)
- You can send the meme or clip or message in question to them as a message or a forward
- They will send it back to you with an overlaid status on a verification scale that ranges from True to Ridiculous
- This will also get updated in their assets all across their platform
Promising, right? And I like their utilitarian, matter-of-fact brand language with a monospaced font in the palette as seen on their website.
Let us come back home now. Will this type of service be welcome in our country? Will Elections 2019 of one of the biggest democracies in the World be fake news free? Fingers crossed.
All images are from the Verificado Website.