WhatsApp pilots new fact-check feature in seven countries

Yolanda Curtis
August 6, 2020

Whatsapp has introduced a feature that will allow users to check the contents of viral messages in its latest efforts to curb the spread of misinformation. Once activated, the Advanced Search feature should allow users to narrow down their search to photos, videos, links, GIFs, audio, and even documents. Most recently, the app added the ability to let users quickly search Google to double-check the forwarded messages.

WhatsApp says that any message that you chose to search online will be sent directly to the web browser on your iOS or Android smartphone "without WhatsApp ever seeing the message itself" - so you shouldn't need to worry about Facebook keeping tabs on the content of your messages thanks to this improved security feature.

In WhatsApp's example (seen above), a magnifying glass icon appears next to a message with two arrows (it helps people know when they've received a message that was not written by a close contact).

Starting with Advanced Search Mode, WhatsApp features tracker WABetaInfo notes that the feature is finally rolling out for certain beta testers.

At present, the "search the web" feature is only available to WhatsApp users in Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, UK, and USA, but you'd expect it to roll out in other countries soon enough. In 2018, the limit was 20 chats. It's not guaranteed that this move will stop misinformation altogether but it will provide another useful tool to help users feel and stay safe.

One message on WhatsApp read: "Clapping, conch blowing by (1.3 BILLION) people at the same time will create so much vibrations that virus will lose all potency". Users will also be able to 1-tap to start group chats in groups fewer than 8.

In Singapore, government agencies debunked about 40 instances of speculation, rumours, scams and outright falsehoods about the Covid-19 outbreak over all social media platforms in the first five months of this year.

Other reports by iNewsToday