As part of the End-to-end encrypted Platforms and Political Misinformation workshop at Stanford Internet Observatory, Dr Scott Hale will be presenting a case study of the 2019 Checkpoint tipline project to combat misinformation during that year’s Indian elections.

This presentation will reflect on Meedan’s experience facilitating misinformation tiplines on WhatsApp for fact-checking organizations. Tiplines allow users to submit ‘tips’ containing messages they wantfact-checked. We compare the tips sent to a WhatsApp tipline run during the 2019 Indian national elections with the messages circulating in large, public groups on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

We find that tiplines are a very useful lens into WhatsApp conversations: a significant fraction of messages and images sent to the tipline match with content being shared on ‘public’ WhatsApp groups and other social media. Our analysis also shows that tiplines cover the most popular content well, and a majority of such content is often shared to the tipline before appearing in large, public WhatsApp groups. Overall, the analysis suggests tiplines can be an effective source for discovering content to fact-check, seeding hash-lists of known misinformation, and studying the dynamics of information spread on WhatsApp.