Now, WhatsApp is testing feature to verify fake news, rumors
As fake news continues to rise due to the outbreak of COVID-19, WhatsApp is doing everything possible to prevent people from being misled by baseless rumors/misinformation. The company has taken a number of initiatives lately, and now, to build on that effort, it is testing a feature to let you verify the authenticity of a message more easily. Here's more about it.
New online verification feature in WhatsApp's Android beta
First reported by TechCrunch, WhatsApp's latest Android beta brings the ability to quickly search the web with the text, photo, or video received in a message. The feature allows you to get more context about the message in question and verify if the claim is true. From there, a decision can be taken on forwarding it to other users.
Just one touch needed to search online
The screenshots of the feature indicate you will be able to use it with a new search icon appearing next to a received message. Once you tap it, the app will show a prompt asking to search on the web while noting that agreeing would mean uploading the message on Google. If you continue, the entire message would be searched on Google.
This could come really handy to fight COVID-19 infodemic
The new tool would be critical in fighting misinformation on WhatsApp, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ever since the disease started spreading from the Chinese city of Wuhan, a plethora of baseless rumors and claims about the infection have made it to the messaging service, starting with how it spreads to how it can be prevented or cured. The list is just endless.
Roll-out confirmed, timeline remains unclear
WhatsApp confirmed the development of the new tool, but without providing clarity on release. "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," a company spokesperson said, adding that "this feature is currently in testing, and we look forward to rolling it out in the near future."
WhatsApp donated for fact-checking, launched information hub, WHO chatbot
The development of this feature comes in addition to other steps being taken by WhatsApp to combat fake news. The company recently donated $1 million to the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network, launched a dedicated COVID-19 information hub and a WHO chatbot for COVID-19 facts/resources.