As WhatsApp becomes an entrenched means of communication, there is a need to understand how information and misinformation spreads on an encrypted platform and consequently, counter the latter.
Tattle is an app that allows users to conveniently share WhatsApp messages forwarded to them for research and information verification. The following three pieces of data are collected by Tattle on every submission:
1. The content being submitted by a user.
2. The time stamp at which the content was submitted.
3. The location from where the content is being sent (as indicated by Internet or wifi service provider). You can opt to not send location.
How does Tattle use this information?
These three data points can not be used to personally identify users, but provide an entry point for rich quantitative research on content on WhatsApp. For example, location and time stamp can help map information flows on WhatsApp. These data points also help identify regional trends and help answer questions such as how quickly and how widely does content travel? Do WhatsApp videos have a shelf life or are they recycled and forwarded in newer forms?
The app additionally provides an option for users to annotate their submission with a description and tags. Tags provide more context on the data, which is useful both for research and for prioritizing messages for fact checking.
Tattle is strongly driven by principles of open science and open source movements. All the data will be available to all.