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WhatsApp to Add Search Feature to Help in Debunking Viral Messages

Aug 04, 2020

Faizel Patel – 04/08/2020

(Twitter: @FaizelPatel143)

In a bid to let users quickly search the contents of viral messages, social media platform WhatsApp is piloting a new feature to fact-check misinformation.

The Verge reports that WhatApp announced that a magnifying glass icon will start appearing next to messages that have been forwarded through a chain of five or more people.

Tapping the magnifying glass icon searches for the message’s contents online, with the idea being that this should reveal any common conspiracy theories or misinformation the message contains.

According to the Verge, in a screenshot of the feature released by WhatsApp, it uses the example of a viral message which claims that “drinking fresh boiled garlic water will cure COVID-19.” A web search brings up three fact-checking websites, which flag this claim as false.

The new feature is the latest measure that WhatsApp has introduced to try and combat  the spread of misinformation on its platform.

In April WhatsApp introduced new limits on the forwarding of viral messages allowing messages to only be forwarded on to one more person, down from the previous limit of five.

While WhatsApp said the measure had cut the spread of viral messages by 70 percent there was no indication about how many of these messages contained misinformation.

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