11 July 2018
WhatsApp has been facing a lot of criticism for the spread of fake news. Fake message on the app has lead to a number of killings in India, where smartphone users are relatively new in small towns and villages where people tend to believe the fake messages.
In a blog post published recently, WhatsApp has announced that it will now label messages which are received as forwards in a bid to separate fake news from real news on its app. This will help users determine the usefulness of the message. The move will help in curbing the spread of fake news on the app which is rampant till now.
The spread of fake news on WhatsApp came into the spotlight when a series of incidents of mob lynching in India was revealed due to rumours/fake news circulating on WhatsApp. Nearly 14 deaths were reported since May 20, which were attributed to fake news. The messaging app has over 200 million users in India.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in India has warned WhatsApp for abuse of its platform. It has asked the company to take steps to ensure its platform is not misused for such purposes.
“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 also helps you determine if your friend or relative wrote the message they sent or if it originally came from someone else,” WhatsApp said in a global statement.
The company added that users will have to download the latest supported version of WhatsApp on their phone to see the new 'forwarded' label.
“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,” WhatsApp said.
WhatsApp added: “To fight fake news, we all need to work together - technology companies, the government and community groups. If you see something that’s not true, make people aware and help stop the spread.”