How to Defeat Fake News With a Screenshot Verification Service (SVS)

Super genuine believable truthful news!
More uber believable news!
WhatsApp already has this verification capability built in! Security code (public key) screen for Android (left) and iPhone (right). Source: The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s WhatsApp guides for iOS and Android

Vicous rumors spread over social media and messaging platforms spawn murder in 3rd world countries

In India and other third world countries, particularly in areas where general literacy is low, vicious rumors spread like wildfire through chat platforms like Whatsapp. Flash lynch mobs gather and often murder or maim completely innocent and unwary accused. The most common example is rumors of a particular address harboring a child kidnapper in areas where human trafficking is common and law enforcement’s presence is untrustworthy or very low. The Indian government is strongly considering banning WhatsApp and other e2e encrypted messaging services for this reason. In response, Whatsapp has reduced the number of parties to whom one can simultaneously broadcast a forwarded message to 5 chats(from a previous limit of 500 chats) to dramatically reduce the viral velocity of fake news. This clunky solution is only partially effective.

  1. GlobalNews.ca: Lynching of an innocent call-center employee in India — https://globalnews.ca/news/4333409/india-whatsapp-child-kidnapper-lynching-fake/
  2. BBC: India WhatsApp ‘child kidnap’ rumours claim two more victims — https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-44435127
  3. LA Times: When fake news kills: Lynchings in Mexico are linked to viral child-kidnap rumors — https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-mexico-vigilantes-20180921-story.html
  4. BBC: Burned to death because of a rumour on WhatsApp (in Mexico) — https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-46145986
  5. The Guardian: Muslim killings over meat eating in India https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/20/mobs-killing-muslims-india-narendra-modi-bjp

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Aditya Advani

Aditya Advani

Teaching is more distinctively human than learning.