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Ask HN: How to stop spreading misinformation on private messaging apps
5 points by rohith2506 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments
One of the major reasons for spreading misinformation especially in non English speaking communities is through WhatsApp, WeChat, telegram and other regional messaging apps. Considering that they are end to end encrypted and also WeChat which only allows embedded view of external sources in their application, this makes it really hard to solve this without compromising privacy.

So, what are the best possible measures we can take to mitigate the problem a bit or even solve some low hanging fruits?

You just don’t. Misinformation can only be stopped by individuals and you can’t stop it without infringing privacy or engaging in censorship which is as bad as misinformation.

I agree with Durov’s approach.

> Every few decades there is a drastic change in how we view important societal and scientific problems. What used to be a ridiculous idea yesterday can become the predominant opinion today, only to turn into an obsolete notion tomorrow. In the history of human beliefs, change is the only constant. Most people living in 1921 shared views that today are considered quaint at best, and dangerous at worst. The chances that our present-day convictions will remain relevant by 2121 are slim. In fact, we won't even have to wait 100 years, as the speed of change is accelerating. A good example is how quickly humanity changed its mind over the origins of Covid. Just a year ago, the idea that the virus originated from a Wuhan Lab was dismissed as a conspiracy theory. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms blocked posts promoting the lab leak theory. Today, however, this theory is on its way to becoming the mainstream scientific view of how the virus originated. Such instances make combating fake news and misinformation particularly challenging. They can also fundamentally undermine people's trust in the neutrality of social media platforms, and jeopardize future efforts to fight misinformation. Telegram never blocked posts discussing the lab leak theory, because we didn't think it's our role to decide for our users what they should believe. At the same time, we felt that our users had the right to be informed about Covid by official sources that reflected scientific consensus. That's why we worked with 19 governments to help them reach out to every Telegram user in their countries with up-to-date information on the pandemic. Today we call upon more governments to join the Telegram anti-Covid initiative to make sure more people around the world get access critical knowledge that can save lives. In my 20 years of managing discussion platforms, I noticed that conspiracy theories only strengthen each time their content is removed by moderators. Instead of putting an end to wrong ideas, censorship often makes it harder to fight them. That’s why spreading the truth will always be a more efficient strategy than engaging in censorship.

It's pretty funny how some of your most recent previous comments on HN could easily be labelled by some as "misinformation" in today's world. Would you have wanted your suggestion that "RSI problems are not just physical but tightly coupled up with your mind" censored? (Btw, I have a book by Dr Sarno, and am pretty open-minded about his theories)

This is what I call cherry picking just to prove your point. That's a thread where people are giving suggestions on how to mitigate RSI and I gave the solution what worked for me. Didn't say anything that this is the best solution. And also you forgot about strength training and climbing which I mentioned there.

I am always up for constructive criticism but this is not cool


It was kind of a demonstration.

I appointed myself “moderator” for a moment and highlighted one thing you said and decided to suggest you that you could spread misinformation.

Not cool indeed!

What if you got shadow banned instead or your account banned for this misinformation?

its not enough that all social media is controlled and sanitized, you want even to control private conversations as well? get a grip.

You completely misread the context. Again, please read the post. If it's not for privacy, there's no need to ask for suggestions. We can just implement 1984. But that's not the society I wanna live in. Nor you want to.

The mere fact that you and me are having this discussion on this platform has a premise that we are educated to a certain level who can tell whats bullshit or not but almost 50% of the population in this world cannot. Again, I am not saying we should play the smart guy role for them but looking for ways to mitigate the amount of misinformation that's being spread.

Education. People must be educated and trained in critical thinking, so they can spot the bullshit spread by other persons and also by the government (like the "weapons of mass destruction").

Dude you're insane

Did you watch John Oliver's latest episode on misinformation [0]? They put out a website, available in multiple languages, of things to spread:


Education via spreading funny memes that say not to spread stuff that is un-trusted is probably the best idea that doesn't involve the owners of those apps changing something.

In my opinion, a change on all social media platforms that would be awesome is a process to get an account listed as a "trusted source" and only trusted sources can have content go viral/global. Simple enforcement is if a trusted source gets reported to be spreading BS, they get banned. Everything else can only be 2 degrees of separation from the poster, which is friend of a friend basically. It won't eliminate the problem but it could possibly cut down on the misinformation spreading.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5jtFqWq5iU

Just so I understand, you’re asking how to censor peoples private conversations?

This seems like a new level of assuming you’re smarter than other people and should be able to tell them what to think.

Why stop there bro. We need to stop the spread of misinformation in private thoughts.

When I see a funny but most times subtle anti-vacc, climate crisis denial or right wing meme on the family chat I always speak up.

Most times on memes the premis is already wrong to make a point. It's important to check and to show people with less media skills how to check innocent funny political memes for truth. Most of them just lie or misinterpret statistics or USA any other rethoric trick to brainwash meme by meme by meme.

It's important to make it visible for our Facebook scrolling boomer parents for example, to make them think before they share.

Interesting is how deep the misinformation is already rooted sometimes. In one case I lost a friend who believed in the Corvid is a Hoax lie, because I repedatly tried to convince us in our sport chat. It's sad. Intentional misinformation should be a crime. This has nothing to do with free speech.

Accept that it is about emotions, not facts! A lot in life is.

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