A newly unearthed feature on WhatsApp will identify frequently forwarded messages to warn users about content that are potentially spam or fake.
WhatsApp is apparently experimenting with more tools to combat the spread of fake news, a problem that's been growing on its platform in recent years.
WhatsApp Tests Frequently Forwarded Messages Feature
A new beta for Android labels messages shared more than five times as "frequently forwarded," with a forward counter even included in the Message Info section to see exactly how many times it's been re-distributed. WABetaInfo first spotted the feature.
For now, it's limited to messages one sends rather than receives, but even still, it could give a user second thoughts about sharing certain content more than once.
It's not clear whether or not this feature will make it into a standard WhatsApp update, although since it appeared in the beta program, that suggests it's only a matter of time before it gets released.
Fake News And Spam On WhatsApp
WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, is one of the biggest and most-used messaging platforms on the planet with more than a billion daily active users. The app is in intense pressure to do something about its problems with fake news and spam messages. A number of critics have blamed the spread of fake news on WhatsApp for triggering lynching and other acts of violence in certain places, particularly India.
The problem has gotten so bad that Facebook has resorted to running newspaper ads and hiring dedicated staff to curb the spread of false information. Calling out how many times a message has been forwarded is a tiny but crucial step toward getting rid of pesky fake news infecting the platform.
Whether WhatsApp has more anti-fake news tools in store remains to be determined, but make sure to check back with Tech Times as we learn more about the company's plans. In any case, fake news is not just WhatsApp problem but a recurring issue on a host of other platforms too, including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.