WhatsApp on Fake News

In an attempt to curb the misinformation amid coronavirus crisis, WhatsApp has now imposed a new limit on the forwarding of messages. Further, it’s also planning to roll out a dedicated ‘Search Message on Web‘ feature for users to verify fake news on the platform.

Notably, there has been a significant surge in the circulation of fake news and misinformation on WhatsApp in recent times. Hence, the limit of frequently forwarded messages has now been set to one chat at a time.

If a message has been forwarded for more than five times on the platform, you’ll only be allowed to send it on to a single chat at a time. You won’t be able to send that message to multiple users or groups. Though, one can still copy and paste a message in separate chats.

Previously, one could forward a single message to as many as 256 contacts at a time. But in 2019, the Facebook-owned company capped the forwarding feature to five chats at a time. And the forwarded messages were marked with a Forwarded tag to let the recipients know that the message hasn’t originated from the sender. Now, the limit has been further decreased to one-fifth of the previous alteration.

WhatsApp’s ‘Search Message on Web’ Feature

In the meanwhile, WhatsApp is also rolling out a new “Search Message on Web” feature. The same will let you verify forwarded messages through the web to identify fake news.

Once the feature is live, the frequently forwarded messages will have a search button placed next to the chat bubble. Upon clicking on the search icon, you will be directed to the Google search page to verify the credibility of the information you’ve received. However, not all forwarded messages will have this option.

WhatsApp-Search-Message-on-Web
Image: WABetaInfo

According to WABetaInfo, this feature is currently in the developmental stage and only available to a few users as of now. It’ll be rolled out in the latest versions of the WhatsApp for Android, iOS, and Web in the coming time. Though, there’s no official timeline for now.

Due to Coronavirus lockdowns in several countries, people are spending more time in their homes. This has caused an increase in the number WhatsApp forwards, surging the spread of fake news. While these changes won’t stop people who intend to tap the forwarded button as many times as required, it’ll surely slow down the process by increasing the efforts needed.

Moreover, WhatsApp has clarified that the current changes will stay on the platform even after the coronavirus outbreak is over. The company has also pledged $1 million to combat fake news circling coronavirus pandemic. This will definitely help in limiting the spread of false claims and misinformation on the platform to a huge extent.

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