For a few months now WhatsApp began to take some steps to try to combat the mass sending of fake news through this platform. As reported by web application security specialists, the new measure is to mark with a double arrow icon messages that have been forwarded multiple times, in addition, users will receive a notice from the company when they forward such messages. This new feature will appear with the next app update.
Thus, when a user tries to forward a message that has already been forwarded too many times before, WhatsApp will mark the selected message as “Forwarded many times”; the user will then be able to choose between continuing to send the message or discarding it. “The intention is to help users detect if it is a chain message”, a company spokesman said.
Although a label for multiple forwarding of the same message had already been implemented, this function is a little different, as the message will appear with the double-arrow icon and the “Forwarded” tag.
According to web application security specialists, this notification will only appear if a message has been sent more than five times. The notification will appear regardless of whether it is a text-only message, or a message with images and/or videos attached.
It is important to note that users are still ignoring the exact number of times a message has been forwarded, as this information is protected by WhatsApp end-to-end encryption. “We can’t reveal the exact number of times a message has been forwarded,” the company spokesman said.
WhatsApp, a service owned by Facebook, has tried for a while to implement measures to reduce the spread of fake news or intentionally misleading information. For a few months now, the company has limited the number of times a user can forward a message (5 times), in addition to specifying when a message has been forwarded. In this case, it is expected that the “Forwarded multiple times” tag will help users discern between reliable or possibly false information.
According to web application security specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) WhatsApp users continuously receive all kinds of images that contain incorrect information or, in the worst case, completely fake; however, the company’s efforts helped to discourage the mass delivery of so-called “fake news“.
The company also recently announced the implementation of a feature to search for images received in chat via Google, so they hope to improve users’ ability to differentiate real and fake images, as well as some photos that are used in out-of-context situations.