In its endeavour to deal with the problem of fake news and the spread of misinformation, instant messaging app WhatsApp has introduced a new feature, which will label all forwarded messages.
The announcement comes at the heels of the Indian government directing the Mountain View, California tech giant to curb the spread of rumours and hoaxes on its platform. The government showed strong displeasure at the recent incidents of lynchings, which allegedly took place due to misinformation spread through WhatsApp messages.
The Indian government had called upon the app to recognise inauthentic content and block it before it has a chance to spread. WhatsApp wrote to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology last week and said even though it can’t read messages due to end-to-end encryption, the company will take steps to reduce misinformation on its platform.
One of its promised steps was the launch of a feature which labels all forwarded messages and provides a chance for people to think before they forward something or believe a text that has been sent en masse.
The company has been testing this feature in India for quite some time even as it launched it globally on Wednesday.
“Starting today, WhatsApp will indicate which messages you receive have been forwarded to you. This extra context will help make one-on-one and group chats easier to follow,” it stated in a press statement.
WhatsApp said that this feature will allow people to determine if their friends or relatives sent a particular message or if it came from somewhere else. The company added that people should think before they share a forwarded message.
“WhatsApp cares deeply about your safety. We encourage you to think before sharing messages that were forwarded. As a reminder, you can report spam or block a contact in one tap and can always reach out to WhatsApp directly for help,” it wrote in the statement.
This is just one in a series of measures the company says it’s taking to help the Indian government tackle the problem of fake news. The company is also offering a $50,000 grant to academics who study the spread of misinformation and help the firm fix it. Besides, the company is also open to working with government and fact-checking agencies to tackle the fake news problem, it had assured Meity in its letter.- Business Standard