California, July 6: With the Union Government having approached the Whatsapp over the violence due to misinformation being spread on its platform, the messaging app has reportedly announced that it would grant awards worth $50,000 to researchers to study how misinformation and propaganda spread across social media platforms.
The WhatsApp had on Wednesday said it is "horrified" by the "terrible acts of violence", and outlined steps being taken by the company to curb abuse of the messaging platform. In its response to the IT Ministry's missive, WhatsApp has said false news, misinformation and spread of hoaxes are issues that need to be dealt with collectively, by government, civil society and technology companies working together.
"For this first phase of our program, WhatsApp is commissioning a competitive set of awards to researchers interested in exploring issues that are related to misinformation on WhatsApp. The WhatsApp Research Awards will provide funding for independent research proposals that are designed to be shared with WhatsApp, Facebook, and wider scholarly and policy communities," WhatsApp said in a statement.
According to the statement, the criteria to enroll in the program is that an independent researcher should develop conceptual tools, gather and analyze data, and/or investigate relevant issues, said reports.
WhatsApp had earlier said it is keen to share "best practices" on how the platform can be used by local police as a resource for their community. The government's warning to WhatsApp came in the wake of a spate of incidents involving lynching of innocent people because of certain "fake and motivated" messages purportedly circulated on the widely used messaging app.
As many as 22 people have been reportedly beaten to death in different parts of the country since the first week of May following rumours, mostly propagated on social media and messaging platforms, that peddle fear of outsiders kidnapping children. On Sunday, five people were lynched in Dhule, Maharashtra, on suspicion of being child-lifters.