Google Launches Anti-Misinformation Campaign in India

Google subsidiary Jigsaw will launch an anti-misinformation campaign in India to address "fake news," often blamed for inciting political and religious tensions.

Google Launches Anti-Misinformation Campaign in India
Image credit: Reuters

Facts

  • Google subsidiary Jigsaw will launch an anti-misinformation campaign in India to address "fake news," often blamed for inciting political and religious tensions. It will use "prebunking" videos on its YouTube and other social media platforms to alert viewers of allegedly false claims before they spread.
  • Following a recent experiment by the search engine in Europe to combat anti-refugee sentiment in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the India campaign will be bigger in scope, dealing with three languages — Bengali, Hindi, and Marathi — and cover a population of 1B people.
  • Jigsaw, in partnership with German-based pro-democracy organization Alfred Landecker Foundation and philanthropic investment firm Omidya Network, will produce five videos in the three languages. Viewers will be asked to answer a short questionnaire to gauge what they learned about misinformation.
  • As information spreads rapidly in India, government officials have called on companies like Google, Twitter, and Meta to take stronger action against alleged fake news. According to the UK-based research firm Comparitech, India made 97,631 content removal requests in 2020 – the second-largest after Russia.
  • In 2018, WhatsApp first limited the number of times a user could forward a message to five and later rolled out the "forwarded many times" feature to combat the spread of fake news and rumors in India, after false allegations about child abductors resulted in more than 12 mass beatings, with several killed.
  • Company research suggests viewers are 5% more likely to identify misinformation after watching the videos and Jigsaw's head of research and development Beth Goldman said the program will be focused on issues pertaining to the specific country. Results are to be published in summer 2023.

Sources: Financial Express, Indian Express, Reuters, and Beebom.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by DW. When google curates or censors information online, it's not doing so for the good of humanity but to strengthen its grip on the information and advertising market. The citizens of every country need to stand up and call for government crackdowns on such abuses of power while simultaneously propping up smaller tech companies that don't track what you say and to whom you say it.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Antara. As the leading global search engine, Google has a responsibility to work alongside each and every society it impacts. When radicalizing and hateful information spreads, national unity is at risk, which is why de-escalating programs like this are necessary. Diverse countries around the world are trying to bring people together in a time of fierce division, and Big Tech has the tools and duty to make a difference.