WhatsApp is testing a new feature that will help you check online to see if what is said in the messages you receive is actually true. A new search function will enable people to fact-check message and obtain greater context about what is being said.
Fake news and misinformation have been something of a problem online for a while now, but when a global crisis strikes, it’s particularly noticeable. Social media is a hotbed of maliciously false – as well as just misguided – information, and more and more platforms are fighting back.
Facebook and Twitter have already introduced fact-checking services, and moderators are jumping on certain messages about coronavirus in case they spread dangerously inaccurate information. WhatsApp just launched a coronavirus data hub, and it is currently testing a new search option.
A spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch: “We are working on new features to help empower users to find out more information about the messages they receive that have been forwarded many times”.
Twitter user @shrinivassg shared screenshots of how things are looking in the beta version of the messaging app:
WhatsApp seems to have added a search icon next to Forwarded messages to directly search with the content of the forward on Google – fake messages that have been called out, usually show up on top. Decent move. pic.twitter.com/u0DFnaj2BiMarch 21, 2020
Fighting for truth
The new feature will enable WhatsApp users to perform a web search based on the contents of messages that have been forwarded to them. This will hopefully make it easier for people to determine the reliability of a message, and to think twice before mindlessly forwarding it on.
There is no precise timetable for when this feature will roll out to the main version of the app. For now, WhatsApp says: “This feature is currently in testing, and we look forward to rolling it out in the near future”.