WhatsApp new search feature helps stop fake news

WhatsApp is piloting a new feature that lets users quickly search the contents of viral messages to fact check misinformation.


A magnifying glass icon will start appearing next to messages that have been forwarded through a chain of five or more people. It searches for the message’s contents online when you tap the icon. The idea is that this should reveal any common conspiracy theories or misinformation the message might contain.

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.


Facebook’s attempts to police misinformation on WhatsApp are complicated by the service’s end-to-end encryption which prevents it from being able to see the contents of any messages sent on the service.

WhatsApp’s new search feature is giving users the ability to fact check information themselves rather than the company proactively scanning messages for common conspiracy theories. WhatsApp said that any message that a user chooses to search is sent directly to their browser without WhatsApp ever seeing the message itself.


This is just the latest measure that WhatsApp has introduced to try and stop the spread of misinformation on its platform. It placed in April new limits on the forwarding of viral messages.

After the changes, viral messages can only be forwarded on to one more person. The previous limit was five people. WhatsApp later said the measure had cut the spread of viral messages by 70 percent. It is however impossible to know how many of these messages contained misinformation.

The new search feature is rolling out now on iOS, Android, and web in Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, UK, and the US.

This content has been created as part of our freelancer relief programme. We are supporting journalists and freelance writers impacted by the economic slowdown caused by #lockdownlife.

If you are a freelancer looking to contribute to The South African, read more here.

DMCA.com Protection Status

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *