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WhatsApp testing new 'Search image' feature to fight fake news

WhatsApp will use official Google APIs to find similar or equal images on the internet.

  • Published: March 14, 2019 11:30 AM IST
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WhatsApp is testing a ‘Search image’ feature to check for the authenticity of forwarded images, something that can help detect between a fake image and original may be. The Facebook-owned company has submitted a new update through the Google Play Beta Program with the new ‘Search image’ feature.

The latest WhatsApp Beta update on Google Play bringing the app version to 2.19.73, reports WABetaInfo. It’s been claimed that WhatsApp will use official Google APIs to find similar or equal images on the internet. WhatsApp will first upload the image to Google and will open the browser to show the results. The app will alert users before uploading it to Google.

If WhatsApp can get it right, then this feature will be very useful in understanding fake news/ image. With alternative results from the internet, users will be able to determine if the image is real or Photoshop-ed. At this point, the feature is not available, and it is unknown when WhatsApp will finally roll out to everyone.

Image: WABetaInfo

The messaging company is separately taking more measures to limit viral content on its platform to combat issues specific to India. Abhijit Bose, WhatsApp India Head, on Wednesday said that the company would work with all stakeholders in India for the common safety goal.

WhatsApp has been under intense pressure from the government to devise ways to identify message originators to trace the origin of fake messages circulated on its platform, especially ahead of general elections slated to begin next month. Last year, fake news circulated on WhatsApp incited mob fury, leading to the lynching of over a dozen people across India. The government has, on several occasions, warned social media companies that they can’t evade responsibility if their platforms are used to spread false information.

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WhatsApp is also conducting research with academics and other experts to help understand the challenge of misinformation and improve efforts over time. It has published ads in various newspapers and conducted road-shows, radio, and television campaigns, outlining steps to spot fake news.

  • Published Date: March 14, 2019 11:30 AM IST