WhatsApp takes first step to counter fake news

Tuesday, 10 Jul, 2018

India has told WhatsApp to take "immediate action" after a spate of horrific lynchings sparked by false rumours being shared on the hugely popular smartphone messaging service.

The feature is available in the WhatsApp beta version 2.18.204 or later for Android, but can only be accessed by a handful of users in its initial stages. As per WABetaInfo, the app will now have suspicious link detection functionality.

Upon identifying a dubious website, WhatsApp will mark it with a red label, which will highlight that the message is either spam or will redirect to a fake website. The link will come with a warning that reads, "This link contains usual characters".

WhatsApp is still working on adding new features to Suspicious Link Detection.

Election related information is a core area that WhatsApp is looking at, along with questions on processing problematic events, virality, and digital literacy. For instance, you'll be able to manually report a suspicious link if the company's system doesn't work.

In a list of "easy tips", WhatsApp has announced that they are rolling out a new feature using which users can distinguish forwarded messages so that they can double check facts in case they are not sure who wrote the original message. "It may be trying to appear as another site".

WhatsApp checks the authenticity of the website link provided in the message, while the user forwards the message, the report suggests.

The blog post further added that every time WhatsApp analyses a link, it does it locally without sending any data packets to its servers. However, there are no words from WhatsApp about the official release of the feature. WhatsApp responded to the Government by stating that it is horrified by the bad acts of violence perpetrated by people influenced by false messages shared on the platform.

Right now, messages sent on WhatsApp don't have any kind of labels on them.