On August 3, WhatsApp rolled out a new feature that allows users to quickly double-check the veracity of a forwarded message, especially one that has been forwarded many times. For now, it is only available for those with the latest versions of WhatsApp for Android, iOS, and Web in Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, UK, and the US.
According to the official report, this feature comes with a magnifying glass button in front of any shared message carrying a link. Clicking the button redirects to the web to search for news results or other sources of information that confirm or refute the content of the message. In a way, the user is aware of the need to either share or disregard.
In addition, the feature permits a user to send the content itself or other sources of information to other users directly from the browser. Apparently, WhatsApp's intention is to reduce the spread of misinformation on the platform.
Meanwhile, this is only one out of a number of features supporting the Facebook-owned messaging app's attempt to control or limit the rate of message forwarding.
Recently, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, it introduced a restriction on how many people users are allowed to forward a message to at a time after the first five. Soon, it added double arrows to label a post that was created by someone who is not a close contact and has been forwarded many times.
Interestingly, this is quite similar to Twitter’s recent feature which prompts users to read a tweet that contains a link before retweeting.
In 2020, particularly since the pandemic became a global issue, social media platforms have intensified actions against misinformation.
Facebook, for instance, blocks misinforming posts about coronavirus on the platform, Google took an extreme measure to ban ads on websites that promote conspiracy theories about COVID-19, while Youtube also flags videos revealing false information about a cure for the virus.
While all these moves may give no assurance of an end to misinformation on social media soon, these tech companies expect that their efforts will limit the spread of fake news and also make users aware of the possibility of being a potential fake news peddler if not mindful.
For now, it cannot be verified when the WhatsApp web search feature will be rolled out globally. In the meantime, the tech giant just began the trial of its payment services, WhatsApp Pay, in India after an unsuccessful outing in Brazil in June.