Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 28 September 2020

CORONAVIRUS

WhatsApp to combat disinformation deluge with fact-checking function

The Facebook-owned platform said it was piloting the new feature in seven countries

Users will soon be able to search messages that have been forwarded directly in the app. Courtesy WhatsApp
Users will soon be able to search messages that have been forwarded directly in the app. Courtesy WhatsApp

Messaging service WhatsApp is rolling out a new function which enables users to instantly research forwarded messages in an attempt to fight floods of disinformation on its platform.

Under a new pilot scheme, users in seven countries will be able to upload forwarded messages to their browser to check their veracity.

"Today, we’re piloting a simple way to double check these messages by tapping a magnifying glass button in the chat," a statement on WhatApp's website read.

"Providing a simple way to search messages that have been forwarded many times may help people find news results or other sources of information about content they have received."

WhatsApp will never see the message itself, the company said.

Monday's move is the latest in a series of changes made by the Facebook-owned app to quash disinformation related to the coronavirus contained in forwarded messages.

The World Health Organisation called the deluge of different facts and figures a "infodemic" and warned the public to only trust approved sources.

In April WhatsApp said it had seen a 70 per cent drop in "highly forwarded" messages after preventing messages that had been sent five times or more being posted to more than one group at a time.

At the moment, highly forwarded messages are displayed with two accompanying arrows to signal to the recipient that they have received a message that was not written by a close contact.

The new search feature will be available in Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, UK, and US for those on the latest versions of WhatsApp for Android, iOS and WhatsApp Web.

Updated: August 4, 2020 07:08 PM

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