Instant messaging service WhatsApp on Tuesday night launched a label to identify forwarded messages, as the company struggles to combat fake news and the spread of misinformation across countries, including India. WhatsApp earlier today also unleashed a user awareness drive in the country after drawing flak from the Indian government over fake and provocative messages being circulated on its platform.
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These messages have incited mob-fury, triggering multiple cases of lynching across parts of India and, in turn, prompted the government to issue a stern warning to the company to clamp down on hoax messages designed to “provoke” and “instigate” people. The government had also made it clear, last week, that WhatsApp “cannot evade accountability and responsibility”.
Starting today, WhatsApp will indicate which messages you receive have been forwarded to you. This extra context will help make one-on-one and group chats easier to follow. It also helps you determine if your friend or relative wrote the message they sent or if it originally came from someone else,” WhatsApp said in a global statement.
Users will need to have the latest supported version of WhatsApp on their phone to see the new forwarding label, the company explained. “We encourage you to think before sharing messages that were forwarded. As a reminder, you can report spam or block a contact in one tap and can always reach out to WhatsApp directly for help,” WhatsApp said. WhatsApp today began an awareness campaign to help users identify and prevent the spread of false information, hoax messages and fake news. The Facebook-owned messaging service brought out a full-page advertisement in leading newspapers, first in the series of its user awareness drive, giving “easy tips” to determine if the information received is, indeed, true. The latest campaign by WhatsApp also outlines ways to spot false information including identifying forwarded messages and coaxing users to “double check” on information using multiple sources to establish the authenticity of a news or a photograph. The campaign also nudged users to question information that is meant to instil anger or fear and to think twice before sharing such messages.
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