Yesterday, just a couple of hours after finding out I may have to have chemo again (not what I wanted to hear), I spoke to BBC World Service about WhatsApp limiting forwarding of messages
- How WhatsApp Fuels Fake News and Violence in India (Wired, long read)
I scribbled down a few ideas on my laptop (which I was unable to see once I had landline in one ear, and iPhone Voice Memo in the other, and it timed out):
- Private companies have had the balance of power, good that government trying to get it back – and causing them to stop, think, tweak… they have to make the case for maintaining the privacy (and I always wonder how close this is to asking the post office to read every message, or phone companies to track calls… although with AI/algorithms, messages could be flagged).
- Often the ‘easy’ win however is to target the technology (company), rather than any systemic problems behind it (e.g. poverty, etc. + the lack of investment in a nation – similar to what we see about tax avoidance in UK). Think e.g. the London 2011 riots were blamed on Blackberries, but actually research done afterwards showed that more importantly the clean up job was spread by that.
- The limit to 5 forwards, essentially they appear to be doing a pilot in India, and extrapolate globally if it works – but they haven’t done it alone – there’s a digital literacy campaign, etc.
- As a historian (of propaganda – which many would say is fake news) originally – check the source origins, cross-check the source – triangulate the data. Propaganda only really works if it’s in line with things people already think – rarely get a 180 transformation – so need to look at the whole context the messages are being shared in.
- Uganda – saw positive transformations of mobiles, etc. to be able to sell goods at a good price (or not go to market if not)
You can listen here (just over 3 minutes).