Facilitated by Mr. Pallab and Mr. Kumar Sambhav from Digital Wellness Lab (DWL), a recent workshop gathered approximately 35 participants to delve into the evolving threats of misinformation, scams, and deep fakes in the digital realm. The session provided valuable insights into these challenges and explored potential solutions to safeguard communities from the harmful effects of misinformation.

The workshop commenced with a comprehensive presentation on the emerging threats posed by misinformation, scams, and deep fakes, particularly within social media and messaging platforms like WhatsApp. Facilitators highlighted the detrimental effects of such content on citizens and communities, emphasising the unique position of SoochnaPreneurs as ‘Data Trustees’ for their communities due to their relatively higher digital literacy and trusted standing within their areas of operation.

The presentation introduced the WhatsApp Watch Project, aligning its objectives with the concerns raised regarding misinformation threats. Participants were invited to contribute to the project as data donors, aiding in the development of tools to analyse and combat misinformation within their WhatsApp groups.

A lively discussion ensued among participants, highlighting their shared concerns about misinformation threats within their communities. Financial and job-related scams circulating on WhatsApp groups emerged as significant areas of interest, along with socially divisive messaging and gender-based crimes facilitated by doctored photos. Participants emphasised the need for methods to identify and counter misinformation, suggesting the establishment of local WhatsApp broadcasting channels for fact-checking and the creation of multilingual YouTube channels for debunking fake news.

Participants expressed keen interest in the potential development of a WhatsApp messaging “fit-bit” tool to assess the health of their groups and verify the veracity of messages. Suggestions were made for integrating such tools directly within WhatsApp to automate the verification process. Additionally, participants proposed conducting local-level workshops to educate communities about misinformation, with SoochnaPreneurs serving as facilitators.

The workshop provided a platform for participants to explore the evolving threats of misinformation and scams in the digital landscape, as well as brainstorm potential solutions. Through collaborative efforts and innovative ideas, communities can work together to combat misinformation and promote digital wellness.