Facebook is again in hot waters as the fake news spread from its most widely used messaging platform — WhatsApp resulted in the death of over 12 innocents people by mobs in separate incidents in different states of India. To curb its fake news problems, WhatsApp is offering grants of up to $50,000 to social researchers for finding out the reason behind these tragic incidents.
WhatsApp came under scrutiny after it was discovered that over a dozen of people got killed in a mob violence across five states of India due to the misinformation spread via the online platform during the course of last two months. Washington Post claims that among the total number 8 were killed during the last week.
Witnessing these tragic incidents in India which is also the 2nd largest market of WhatsApp users, Indian government criticized the company for its role in spreading false information. India’s Ministry of Electronics and IT demanded from the Facebook-owned WhatsApp that the company should “take immediate action to end this menace.”
In response to that WhatsApp announced that it will pay researchers for studying various aspects of misinformation including election-related issues and viral content which is being spread through the platform. As the statement reads, “WhatsApp is commissioning a competitive set of awards to researchers interested in exploring issues that are related to misinformation on WhatsApp.”
The company further states; “We will seriously consider proposals from any social science and technological perspective that propose projects that enrich our understanding of the problem of misinformation on WhatsApp.”
This is not the first time that fake news spread through social networking giant Facebook resulted in several casualties. Last year in Myanmar, over 650,000 Rohingya Muslims were massacred in the world’s most brutal homicidal violence due to the hate speech primarily spread through Facebook.