Social media, which connects and catalyses change, can also be a minefield of fake news and falsehoods. These messages are an example of the steady, constant stream of misinformation spreading through platforms and networks which link families, friends, and associates. The undercurrent of anxiety and panic is palpable.
It is for this very reason that The Times of India launched a community service, #TimesVerified, that aims to provide clarity and accuracy on vital issues through a collaborative effort with readers.
Through the initiative, the media company urges readers not to blindly forward any message without being doubly sure of its authenticity or getting it verified. Citizens can share any dubious message to “+91 98198 88887” and TOI’s panel of experts will verify the message as true or fake after a thorough investigation.
The initiative also urges readers to share fake news busted by this service on their social handles to spread awareness and fight the menace of fake news.
The service was launched with a 360-degree promotional strategy to drive the shareability of busted fake news and usage of the service. “Fake News of the Day” was made the main communication.
A daily column on Page 2 nationally was introduced showcasing “Fake News of Day” and asking readers to share it on their social handles, hence breaking the chain of the fake forward.
Celebrity endorsements were promoted to build trust around the service. Influencers like Dr. Devi Shetty, Pullela Gopichand, and Sonam Wangchuk helped share the message, and a Web site acted as a repository of the most trending fake news busted by Times Verified.
As a result:
- TOI received and verified more than 50,000 messages during the first three months of its nationwide launch.
- On social media, the initiative garnered engagement of more than 23 million by way of likes, shares, comments, reactions, retweets, post clicks, and video views.
- Close to 1.2 million users were actively engaged on the Web site.
This community service is live and will continue to break the chain of fake news for many years to come.