WhatsApp seems to be working on a new feature in its latest beta version for Android to fight spam. The company had added “Suspicious link” detection in its latest update for beta users taking aim at users who share malicious links with others. It is likely that the company is developing this feature to fight both the problem of spam as well as the emerging problem of fake news and false information that is shared on the messaging platform. According to a detailed report by WABetaInfo, WhatsApp has added this feature in the version 2.18.206 of the app that was released as part of the Android beta program.
The report notes that the company has been working on this feature from version 2.18.204 and it is not available for users to test including beta users. The reason for this is probably because this feature needs significant tweaks and improvements before it is ready for a larger user-set to test. This feature helps users detect spam links that they have sent or received by accident.
Watch: OnePlus 6 Red First Look
The way this works is that WhatsApp analyzes the link every time a message with a link is sent to you to detect if it redirects to a fake or alternative website. If the app detects that the link is redirecting the user, it marks the link with a red label indicating that the link is suspicious.
The interesting thing to note here is that if the user tries to open the spam link then WhatsApp throws a warning alerting the user that they are trying to open a “possible suspicious link”. The report noted that WhatsApp analyzes the link to check for unusual characters locally on the device without sending any data to WhatsApp servers. It is likely that the company may also add the feature to manually report suspicious links in the cases where WhatsApp has not detected the links or false links.
The report does not point out that this is meant to fight fake information or false links but it is possible that the company may expand the scope of spam detection to include that. It will be particularly helpful for the platform to fight off the epidemic of fake news that is plaguing the platform right now.