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Make sure to verify WhatsApp voice notes for misinformation

Beware of anonymous voice notes. If the person doesn’t identify themselves and who they represent, ask if you can trust the message.

Misinformation on WhatsApp can be difficult to detect and verify, especially when it comes from trusted friends and family.

Africa Check has fact-checked many WhatsApp claims that take the form of text, images and video, but one of the more difficult forms of media to verify is voice notes.

1. Who is behind the voice?

Beware of anonymous voice notes. If the person doesn’t identify themselves and who they represent, ask if you can trust the message.

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And if they do mention a name or organisation, can you verify it with an online search?

2. Is it a fake?

But what if the voice note claims to be from an official or well-known person?

3. Listen carefully

But it’s not just about how the voice sounds – the content is also important. If the voice note contains specific information or claims, check them against reliable sources.

Use search engines or trusted news websites to verify the information – whether facts, figures or events – presented in the voice note.

4. Context is key

Your next step is to evaluate the content of the voice note in the broader context of the claims it makes. If it is allegedly from a famous person or leader, does it match their usual behaviour, beliefs or circumstances? Are their claims consistent with the official position of the organisation they represent or work for?

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5. Why was it created?

Assess the motives and potential benefits of creating or distributing a fake voice note.

• Money – driving traffic to false news websites for advertising revenue or to promote bogus cures.

• The desire to connect with an online community, such as fellow supporters of a political party, or a cause, such as the anti-vaccine movement.

• To influence public opinion by, for example, discrediting a political opponent.

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