SANKALP PHARTIYAL FILE PHOTO REUTERS STOCKHOLM LONDON Google's Jigsaw subsidiary is launching a new anti-misinformation project in India aimed at preventing misleading information that has been blamed for inciting violence, a top executive said.
The video will be used to counter false claims before they become widespread on the company's YouTube platform and other social media sites.
Google's efforts to challenge the spread of misinformation are a contrast to the rival Twitter, which is cutting its trust and safety teams despite new owner Elon Musk saying it will not become a free-for-all hellscapeGoogle has recently conducted an experiment in Europe where it tried to counter anti-refugee narratives online in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The experiment in India will be bigger in scope as it will deal with multiple local languages -- Bengali, Hindi and Marathi -- and cover diverse sections of a country populated by over a billion people.
This presented an opportunity to research prebunking in a non-western, global south market, said Beth Goldberg, Jigsaw's head of research and development.
Like other countries, misinformation spread quickly across India, mostly through social media, creating political and religious tensions.
Indian government officials have called on tech companies like Google, Meta, and Twitter to take stronger action against the spread of fake news.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting I&B has repeatedly invoked extraordinary powers to block YouTube channels, as well as some Twitter and Facebook accounts, which have been accused of spreading harmful information.
Inflammatory messages have also spread via Meta's messaging service Whatsapp, which has more than 200 million users in India. In 2018, the company curbed the number of times a message could be forward, after false claims about child abductors resulted in mass beatings of more than a dozen people, some of whom died.
Jigsaw will produce five videos in three different languages in collaboration with the Alfred Landecker Foundation, a pro-democracy organization based in Germany, the philanthropic investment firm Omidya Network India and a number of smaller regional partners.
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After watching the videos, viewers will be asked to fill in a short multiple-choice questionnaire designed to gauge what they have learned about misinformation. After watching the videos, viewers were more likely to identify misinformation, according to the company's recent research on the subject.
Goldberg said that the Indian initiative will focus on issues that resonate in the country.
They gain resilience to being misled in the future by forewarning individuals and equipping them to spot and refute misleading arguments.