WhatsApp is set to roll out a new feature in its efforts to stop the spread of fake information. The COVID-19 pandemic has left millions of people stranded in their homes. Everyone around the world is searching for ways to avoid this deadly virus and hope to get news for a vaccine soon. In these troubled times, people depend on various social media and online platforms to be updated about the on-going pandemic.
However, there has been a lot of fake news floating around the internet about the COVID-19 virus. Social media platforms are one of the primary sources of spreading such fake information. This makes differentiating between real and fake news exceedingly hard for people. In the wake of this crisis, the WhatsApp has taken another step to stop the spread of misinformation. The Facebook-owned messaging platform informed about its new “Search the Web” on a blog on August 3, 2020.
Steps Taken by WhatsApp Previously
WhatsApp is one of the main sources of spreading information in countries like India and Brazil due to its free messaging services. It has more than 400 million users in the two countries combined. People use “WhatsApp forwards” to spread information around the world. However, many of such forwards turn out to be fake. WhatsApp, implemented a new special forward label on the messages which were forwarded many times. The label being two arrows helped people to know that the message was not written by close contact. This feature helped identify spamming messages but was not very successful in curbing the spread of fake news.
Earlier this year, the social media messaging giant took another major step, by putting a limit on the number of times a message can be shared at once. The limit was set to 5, meaning a WhatsApp message can only be forwarded 5 times on the platform in one go. After reaching the limit, the message can either be forwarded to a WhatsApp Group or one individual recipient at one time. The feature was introduced to limit the amount of fake information shared on the social media platform. However, it was only a half measure, since people were still blindly forwarding messages without knowing its authenticity.
The New ‘Search the Web Feature’ And How It Works
To further ensure the spreading of proper information, the Facebook-owned messaging app has introduced another feature that allows users to know if the information is authentic or not. Whatsapp’s new feature called ‘Search the Web‘ allows its users to search about the shared news on the internet to know if the information is real or fake. When a message has been shared by five or more users, a magnifying glass icon will start appearing beside it. By clicking on this icon, users can search about the contents of the message online and find out if the shared information is real or fake.
The new feature would bring a sense of authenticity to the various information which is exchanged through it and also help users who rely on the platform to stay up-to-date with the world. However, the effectiveness of the new feature would only be determined as people start using it. It has already been launched Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, the UK, and the US over the latest version of WhatsApp on Android, iOS, and WhatsApp Web.