By: Nick Gambino
Popular messaging platform WhatsApp has added a forwarding flag in an effort to combat the ongoing threat of fake news.
As Facebook (which owns WhatsApp) is hard at work trying to stop the hemorrhage of fake news spread by all kinds of nefarious characters, there are other social media apps that are figuring out their own ways of dealing with the scourge.
WhatsApp’s new bright idea was to tag any message not originally written by the sender as “forwarded.” In other words, let’s say you copy someone else’s message or send a link to a news article, that message you send will be labeled with a little forwarding arrow and the word “forwarded.”
This is intended to let the receiver know that this is not something the person is saying but is actually repeating. Kind of like letting you know you’re in the middle of a game of Telephone. In that way you can be more diligent about verifying information or staying on your toes for possible misinformation. Basically, they’re throwing you a bone so you don’t sound like a dork if you repeat it without first verifying. Obviously, that’s best-case scenario, the spread of false information can have much more destructive results.
This forwarding flag will apply to any message whether it’s written text, a video, image or audio. “This extra context will help make one-on-one and group chats easier to follow,” WhatsApp said in a blog post. “It also helps determine if your friend or relative wrote the message they sent or if it originally came from someone else.”
It goes without saying that you’ll need the newest version of WhatsApp to be able to see this functionality in play.
This comes on the heels of Facebook testing a new feature in Messenger that tells you if an unknown or imposter account messaging you was newly created. It will also tell you where the phone number is located. For example, it might say, “Logged in using a phone number from Russia. Account was recently created. Different from your Facebook friend (name).”
With misinformation and fake news posing a real threat to personal safety and slowly chipping away at the very foundation of society, I’m sure these changes are more than welcome by those invested in truth, not sensation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.