WhatsApp will start indicating which messages you receive have been forwarded to you starting today. The Facebook-owned social messaging platform is drawing criticism from around the world for its inability to limit the spread of misinformation on the network.
WhatsApp started labeling messages received by an user or posted on a group as ‘Forwarded’ last month. Today, the company announced that the feature will be widely available as additional context to know whether your friend or relative wrote the message they sent or if it originally came from someone elese. In order to see this new forwarded label on messages, WhatsApp users will need to have the latest supported version on their phone.
WhatsApp is also encouraging its users to think before they share forwarded messages to their friends or relatives. “As a reminder, you can report spam or block a contact in one tap and can always reach out to WhatsApp directly for help,” the company said in a released statement. The company also recently announced Research Awards for Social Science and Misinformation as an effort to curtail the spread of false messages on the platform.
The social messaging platform is facing pressure after media reports of the service being used to spread fake news and incite a series of lynchings and mob beatings. Last week, the Indian government asked WhatsApp to take steps to curb the spread of misinformation and provocative messages on its platform.
WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion monthly active users globally and over 200 million people use the service frequently in India. Five people were beaten to death by a mob in Maharashtra early this month on suspicion that they were child abductors. The messages of people being child abductors is being spread widely leading to a number of communal lynchings in the country.
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“Deep disapproval of such developments has been conveyed to the senior management of WhatsApp and they have been advised that necessary remedial measures should be taken,” India’s IT ministry said last week.
WhatsApp is now undertaking initiatives in educating users to identify fake news. It has also introduced a new setting where only the group admins will be able to send messages to a group. By labeling forwarded messages on the platform, WhatsApp is taking major step to educate users about messages they receive on their phone.