Following warnings of the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on the spread of fake news, WhatsApp has taken a big step forward with the launch of its Forwards label in India.
As the company announced, it expects Forwards label will help users identify if a text or a video has been forwarded by another user and not originally composed.
In a statement, WhatsApp said that it would indicate which messages are forwards starting Tuesday.
“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 comes from someone else. To see this new forwarding label, you need to have the latest version of WhatsApp,” the statement said.
Further, WhatsApp is encouraged users to think before sharing forwarded messages.
This comes a day after the company released full-page advertisements in national dailies to educate people on fake news. “Together we can fight false information,” read the ads in some of the top English language newspapers, Reuters reported.
The ads mention several ways of identifying fake news and urge users to check information before sharing it while cautioning them about the spread of fake news.
After seeking the support of the community and the central government to address the fake news problem, WhatsApp has now proposed the use of machine learning techniques to identify malicious content. The company said it was testing a method to identify forwards while also starting an exercise with academia to study how misinformation is spread in the country.
It must be noted that the government took up the issue of fake news with the messaging app since reports surfaced that at least 31 people have been killed in the last year in 10 different Indian states by lynch mobs mobilised by rumours of child lifting that were spread over WhatsApp.
Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tripura, and West Bengal are said to be the states most affected due to fake news proliferating on social media.
Inc42 had earlier reported that Facebook was examining data privacy concerns of WhatsApp Pay, including how it would store and share user data in line with the RBI’s mandate of storing data in India.
With its 200 Mn users, WhatsApp has been bearing the repercussions of the controversies caused by its parent company, Facebook, which landed in a major data breach following revelations that the data of 2.57 Mn Indians was compromised.
[The development was reported by ET.]