WhatsApp now labels forwarded messages to curb fake news
July 11, 2018 12:17 pm
WhatsApp is now labeling its forwarded messages, in a move that the company hopes will curb some of the app’s viral misinformation problems.
In a blog post published earlier today, WhatsApp announced the new label, which will indicate when a message has been forwarded to someone from another user. The label will apply to text, image, video and audio messages, according to Poynter.
“This extra context will help make one-on-one and group chats easier to follow,” the blog reads. “It also helps you determine if your friend or relative wrote the message they sent or if it originally came from someone else.”
Prior to launching the feature worldwide, WhatsApp had beta tested these forwarded labels in India — the company’s largest market — and Brazil. More than 300 million citizens use the app between the two countries, and in both, the platform as been linked to enabling the spread of dangerous viral rumors. In India, rumors of child abductions and child traffickers disseminated through the encrypted messaging app have been linked to roughly a dozen deaths since May. In Brazil, meanwhile, some reporters have speculated that misinformation about the yellow fever vaccine spread by the app has caused the disease to resurge in unprecedented numbers.
This update is the latest in the myriad steps WhatsApp has taken to address its fake news problem, including offering cash rewards for researchers studying misinformation spread through the app, and wrangling local law enforcement and fact-checking organizations to fight the fake news propagated through the app.