Characterizing the public perception of WhatsApp through the lens of media

WhatsApp is, as of 2018, a significant component of the global information and communication infrastructure, especially in developing countries. However, probably due to its strong end-to-end encryption, WhatsApp became an attractive place for the dissemination of misinformation, extremism and other forms of undesirable behavior... In this paper, we investigate the public perception of WhatsApp through the lens of media. We analyze two large datasets of news and show the kind of content that is being associated with WhatsApp in different regions of the world and over time. Our analyses include the examination of named entities, general vocabulary, and topics addressed in news articles that mention WhatsApp, as well as the polarity of these texts. Among other results, we demonstrate that the vocabulary and topics around the term "whatsapp" in the media have been changing over the years and in 2018 concentrate on matters related to misinformation, politics and criminal scams. More generally, our findings are useful to understand the impact that tools like WhatsApp play in the contemporary society and how they are seen by the communities themselves. read more

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