WhatsApp has added a new feature called “Search the Web” to check whether the piece of the received information is accurate or false. Such an update was necessary considering the rate of fake news circulation on the messenger app. The social media app has received a lot of negative press on failing to deal with its huge problem of false information. It has failed to stop such messages that become viral soon and more masses are exposed to them.
An average user sometimes reads the message and forwards it to others without verifying or realizing that it could be false. It is to be noted that WhatsApp is a chat messenger and is not supposed to be used as a news source because of the reliability issues. The person may have good intentions but spreading fake news can cause great damage to collective knowledge.
About WhatsApp’s Search the Web Feature
Users can now click on a magnifying glass icon on the forwarded messages which will generate a search query on Google. This will enable them to find any relevant news sources about the received content. If there is no other source confirming that information then it will be considered fake.
Social media applications have made it easy to spread fake news among the masses. This new feature of WhatsApp will on all messages that will be forwarded many times. WhatsApp claims that it cannot see the content of the messages users send and receive on WhatsApp. It gave the power to the user to search for the text’s authenticity itself. Users can simply search the message in the browser to confirm what it is all about.
Previous Steps To Fight Fake News
WhatsApp app has taken many steps to combat fake news on its platform in the past. Two years ago it granted 50,000 USD to researchers for studying fake news. Last year, it added a limitation due to which users could only send forwarded messages to 5 chats which were previously 256. This year, the app introduced a double arrow that appeared on a viral message to let users know that this message was forwarded many times.
Misinformation regarding coronavirus pandemic was rampant on app’s platform for which it launched a Coronavirus Information Hub in association with WHO, UNICEF, and UNDP. This portal is helpful for many health professionals, educators, NPOs, governments, and businesses to stay connected and slam the misinformation as soon as it arises.
What Difference Will The New Feature Make?
A similar feature was introduced two years ago which also claimed to prevent the false information from spreading. It only involved a notification alert for messages that did not originate from the contacts. Which is why it didn’t help much. Whatsapp new update provides total control over the forwarded message. Reportedly after introducing the 5 chat limitation, there was a 70% reduction in heavily forwarded messages. However it has not completely stopped and still making falsified claims about many critical issues in the world.
Especially in India where preposterous rumors about the Indian government ran viral every day. India is the biggest market of WhatsApp, having more than 400 million users. The rumors about coronavirus vaccines were also viral in India with ill-informed details. With this new feature, human beings are expected to fight their own foolishness instead of blaming the messaging app for existing. Search the web is being rolled out on 4th August in the US, UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Brazil at the moment. It will available on WhatsApp for iOS, Android, and Web.