How to detect whether the WhatsApp forward you just received is true? CJP’s Hate Hatao brings to you a ready reckoner for identifying and stopping the deluge of fake-hate news on social media and messaging platforms especially whatsapp

29, Dec 2022 | Dr Jasbeer Musthafa Mamalipurath

Misinformation and hate speech have very real consequences. Public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group, fabricated stories to vilify a group of people, false cures, unscientific preventative methods, and conspiracy theories are creating new challenges. They are also contaminating public opinions. 

What is misinformation; and what is the difference between misinformation and disinformation ?

Misinformation – is any content that has information that is false or misleading, but the person who is spreading it believes that it is true. These are often unintentional mistakes such as inaccurate photo captions, dates, statistics, translations, or when satire is taken seriously.

Disinformation – is fabricated or deliberately manipulated textual/audio/visual content and intentionally created conspiracy theories or rumours. Disinformation is also false information. But, unlike misinformation, the person who is disseminating disinformation knows it is false. It is a deliberate, intentional lie and points to people being actively misinformed by malicious actors. Disinformation is the deliberate spreading of false information for political, economic, and other benefits. Disinformation is conceptually close to propaganda.

CJP is dedicated to finding and bringing to light instances of Hate Speech, so that the bigots propagating these venomous ideas can be unmasked and brought to justice. To learn more about our campaign against hate speech, please become a member. To support our initiatives, please donate now!

In India, WhatsApp is a very popular medium for networking with friends, families, and colleagues. And for social networking. But WhatsApp is also used as a key medium for spreading mis/disinformation?  

Currently, as per the ENS Economic Bureau study conducted in 2020, India has over 500 million smartphone users. And among the smartphone applications, WhatsApp enjoys enormous popularity, with more than 400 million users. In a typical scenario, many users

of the application would be part of a handful of WhatsApp groups. And the messages exchanged through these groups range from good-morning, motivational quotes to medical reports. The immense popularity of WhatsApp has made itself incarnate into a key and oftentimes dangerous tool for political communications. 

Recent studies show that in the case of cow protection vigilantism – a key activity within Hindutva mobilisations – WhatsApp was foundational in developing an atmosphere where a rumour or skirmish can gravitate toward violence, which often ends in killings (Mukherjee, 2020). 

Studies also show that in India, WhatsApp groups have been used not only to spread hatred but also for the planning and execution of acts of violence 

Now the question is how to combat this spread of misinformation?

The COVID pandemic made us develop an impactful strategy to contain the spread of the virus. It is commonly known as the ‘test-and-trace’ method. To a certain degree, the same approach can be adopted to combat the spread of misinformation/disinformation and hate speech. 

For example,

(1) test the accuracy of the online content;

(2) trace it back to the source; and

(3) isolate it to stop it from spreading further. 

Remember, only to a certain degree

But on WhatsApp, sometimes, the scenario is far more complex. Tracing the origin of the content on WhatsApp is nearly impossible. Videos, audio clips, and images are gone from one point to another with a simple tap or swipe.

This is why it is very important we know to talk to our contacts, especially those closest to us, about mis/disinformation they might have shared.

Here are some tips to tackle and prevent the spread of mis/disinformation via our WhatsApp or similar chatting platforms.

Tip number 1: always be skeptical — don’t share content unless you verify it. 

Tip number 2: if you feel suspicious about the content, search keywords from the suspicious WhatsApp messages. You will probably see verified articles appear first in search results, helping you determine the veracity of the message. 

Tip number 3: if the message invokes extreme emotions in you; if the content makes you take action against minority communities; if it is getting forwarded multiple times (Look for the double arrow sign that says the post has been heavily shared); if the image looks altered or edited, then there are chances that the content you see is quite possibly misinformation or misleading information.

Tip number 4: if you find the message suspicious, the photos or memes, videos or voice notes you received contain a call for the attack, or violence, and includes messages to hate a community, then do not share it. Stop it right there! Delete it!

Tip number 5: if you, like us, are concerned about the spread of this mis/disinformation; and like to see action taken against the perpetrators, then send those content to us at CJP. We will help you rectify it and burst the hate. 

The video may be viewed here:

Get in touch with us via

PHONE: 7506661171

DM on Twitter/Facebook/Twitter: @cjpindia

EMAIL: [email protected] OR [email protected]

Why CJP?

Simply because nobody else has this sort of experience in fighting hate speech, hate crimes and organised violence in India! Since the last thirty years, informally first , in the form of on ground interventions during the Bombay riots and the famous anti-hate magazine ‘communalism combat’ and later, formally after the Gujarat riots of 2002, CJP has observed, reported on and fought Hate in the courts and outside. We have a very clear understanding of how hate builds and how exactly hate kills. 

Let’s cross-check and verify the information. 

Let’s do it together. Let’s do it now!

Dr Jasbeer Musthafa Mamalipurath is a post-doctoral researcher in media and communications at Western Sydney University, Australia. His research focuses on the challenges related to mis- and disinformation, digital exclusion and examines the relationship between culture, technologies and everyday practices


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