Here's a paradox: Indians are worried about false news online, and yet they consume heavily news via WhatsApp and Facebook.
In fact, instant messaging (IM) services are used as a source of news far more in India than in any other country, according to an online survey commissioned by the think-tank Reuters Institute India and conducted by market research company YouGov in January. The sample reflects over 1,000 English-speaking people in India and is therefore oriented towards males, the rich, the educated and the young.
Over half of the interviewed Indians used both Facebook and WhatsApp for news.
The level of involvement of Indians with news on social media platforms is also high. For example, almost 70% of respondents said they had watched the news headlines on Facebook and also clicked on them.
Titles and photos are the major determinants of whether or not Indians click on a report on social platforms. Brands are the next biggest factor.
Even if online news consumption is high, so are worries. Nearly six out of ten Indians worry about false news online.
After all, WhatsApp was a hotbed of disinformation, both when voters make mistakes in the Brazilian elections of 2018, and the most recent state-level elections in India. India has also witnessed at least 30 episodes of murders and lynchings triggered by false news spread through WhatsApp.