WhatsApp is making it easier for users to check messages that have been forwarded from others in order to stop the spread of misinformation.
Facebook is trialling a new system that will allow users to double-check the validity of messages by simply clicking on the magnifying glass button next to the message in chat. This will then search via a browser allowing you to look the info up on fact check sites on the web.
The spread of fake news has been a big problem for Facebook and others in recent times and this latest update is designed to combat that.
The difficultly comes from the fact that WhatsApp’s messaging service uses end-to-end encryption that’s designed to prevent others from seeing what the content of messages is when they’re shared in the app. This means there’s no way for WhatsApp to automatically check the accuracy of messages sent to you as it can’t simply scan or read your communications to fact check them for you.
Offering a manual option for users to check themselves is the logical solution. The option to search is said to appear when messages have been forwarded through five or more people.
Back in April Whatsapp introduced limits to reduce the spread of these sorts of messages. So-called “frequently forwarded messages” could only be forwarded to one chat at a time and that move lead to a 70 per cent reduction in the spread. This new search functionality is hoped to help more.
The new search functionality is being rolled out to Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, UK and the US currently.