December 2, 2021
WhatsApp fake news

WhatsApp has a Fake News Problem, so It’s offering $50,000 to Help Solve It

WhatsApp fake news is a real, disconcerting issue and now it’s enlisting outside help via research grants to help identify how misinformation spreads…

In just the last two months alone, erroneous information spread through WhatsApp has helped to full lynch mobs in India, leading to the deaths of a dozen people. The government responded with harsh criticism for the Facebook subsidiary. Now, WhatsApp announces it is offering researchers up to $50,000 in grants to determine how false news spreads across its platform.

“WhatsApp is commissioning a competitive set of awards to researchers interested in exploring issues that are related to misinformation on WhatsApp. We welcome proposals from any social science or related discipline that foster insights into the impact of technology on contemporary society in this problem space.”

WhatsApp Fake News Solution sought through Research Grants

WhatsApp is a very popular communications service. In fact, it’s one of the most used and successful products Facebook owns. Currently, it claims over 1.5 billion users across 180 countries. 

Facebook announced the initiative in a blog post, stating it will consider proposals regarding the ways fake news spreads. This includes dynamics such as evaluating election-related information, virality, as well as digital literacy. The company will also bestow grants to explore problematic behaviors and illegal behaviors without actually survelling content. (It’s doing so because it’s a secure service, offering end-to-end encryption.)

Although WhatsApp will offer guidelines, it will not supply researchers with any data. Furthermore, all study results, along with conclusions, will remain the sole property of researchers themselves. WhatsApp isn’t even requiring researchers to share said results and conclusions with it. But, it has set a short timeline for submissions, which are due on August 12th.

The company will pay out grants to host universities and not directly to researchers.