For some time now Facebook-owned messaging app has been rolling out ways to combat the canker of fake news. WhatsApp is now testing another way to fight fake news, this time, with the use of tags on forwarded messages. The messaging app will label messages that got forwarded for 5 times or more.
According to WABetaInfo, in a beta version of the Android app, WhatsApp added a count for how many times a message has been forwarded. Also, the app labels such messages as “frequently forwarded”.
This feature will let receivers know that such messages have gone viral and may possibly be fake news. It is to encourage WhatsApp users to ask of the accuracy of the content of those forwarded messages floating on the platform.
On the other hand, the new tags may encourage users to pass the message around to a lot of people because “it is viral”, not thinking of whether the content is true or not. With this, WhatsApp would have to explain the exact purpose of the labels, if it is going to release this feature. This will help clear any misinterpretation among the users.
In its fight against the spread of fake or inaccurate information, WhatsApp introduced a limit for forwarding messages. The policy was, a user could forward a message to a max of 5 contacts at a go. That policy started out in India. Eventually, the company extended it worldwide.
With the introduction of that policy, WhatsApp said message forwarding went down by 25 percent in India. But that doesn’t mean the circulation of fake news was also reduced. Actually, it is difficult to know if fake news has reduced on the platform.
WhatsApp is taking all these measures to combat the circulation of untrue information but most of the work has to be done by the users. The reason is simple. The encryption on WhatsApp is end-to-end. Thus, no one can read the messages except the sender and recipients. This makes it difficult for WhatsApp to track the sources of misinformation on the app.
Needless to say, question what your contacts send you on the platform before hitting the forward button.