When a start-up, Verify.Wiki LLC, that fights against False News by a methodology called as "reverse virality" by uniting crowdsourcing with social networking, noted the recent lynching cases in India due to Fake WhatsApp messages, it instantly sprang into action. The company picked Chennai as a pilot city to check if it could avert another tragedy.
On July 13th, 2018, the company noticed two suspected False News stories circulating through WhatsApp, one asking people to punish a school teacher in Perambur, Chennai for hitting and kicking little children, and another circulating a young female doctor's photo, claiming she was treating patients for free in Chennai. Both these posts went viral on WhatsApp and Facebook in Chennai.
An adviser and investor at Verify.Wiki who recently requested the company to help with the lethal False News crisis in India, Siva Nadarajah, says, "The team immediately kicked off the pilot. They first learnt that the video that became circulated was from a school in Egypt, recorded in 2014, not from Perambur, Chennai. The team also quickly exposed the other story about the doctor was also false, circulated by a person who steals profile photos of young women from Facebook."
As soon as the news were proven to be fake via crowdsourced research, Verify.Wiki said its "reverse virality" methodology ensured the propagation of the False News was stopped within hours. With reverse virality, the corrected version of the False News, was propagated back through the same path the story originated, via WhatsApp and Facebook, targeting those who might have consumed the False News.
Siva Nadarajah said, "We were able to stop both the False News stories within a few hours. We also noticed the propagation of those two false stories completely stopping within 24 hours."
Siva Nadarajah further added, "Imagine if Wikipedia and Facebook had a baby. You combine crowdsourcing with social networking. It's so powerful when it comes to transparency and credibility in fighting False News. We stopped seven False News stories just within two weeks of our pilot in Chennai. Some are harmless and some are deadly. The good thing is anyone can anonymously submit a suspected False News and everyone can participate in the verification activities. It's a democratic process to fight against False News."
Facebook, the parent company of WhatsApp recently took full page newspaper advertisements to aware people of Fake News propagating via WhatsApp, after lynching incidents killed dozens of people across India.