Whatsapp Rolls Out New Feature to Let Users Fact-check Information on Viral Forwarded Messages
Common (and ridiculous) hoaxes like how drinking water infused with fresh garlic can cure Covid-19 should appear pretty high up on Google as fake news.
WhatsApp is piloting a new feature that will crack down further on viral messages that are factually inaccurate.
It’s an understandable move — the Facebook-owned messaging service is commonly used by the older generation who may not be savvy enough to discern what’s verified information and what’s not on the internet.
The end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp, however, prevents the company from peeking into the contents of messages sent on the service, which means that they can’t pro-actively scan for debunked proclamations.
How the new feature will get around this obstacle is by giving users the ability to fact-check the information themselves before mindlessly forwarding the message to people in their contact list.
Forwarded messages on WhatsApp that have been sent to five or more people will have a magnifying glass icon next to it. Tapping the icon will produce a pop-up box that asks for user permission to search the message’s content on Google.
From there, users will be able to see if the messages have been debunked or identified as misinformation. Common (and ridiculous) hoaxes like how drinking water infused with fresh garlic can cure Covid-19 should appear pretty high up on Google as fake news.
Users in Singapore won’t be able to see the feature yet though. For now, the feature is only rolling out to users in Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, the UK, and the US.
This is the latest step by Facebook in its attempt to stop the spread of misinformation on WhatsApp, which has over two billion users worldwide. The service has been imposing gradual curbs on message forwarding since 2018 after viral rumours on its platform triggered a wave of mass beatings and deaths in India.
With message forwarding restricted even further to only five individuals or groups at once, WhatsApp says it has seen a 70 per cent decrease in highly-forwarded messages.
This article was first published in AsiaOne and was edited and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
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