With fake news taking on menacing proportions across the online world, WhatsApp too is known to be in the process of adopting means to curb the same. That, however, is still being worked upon and involves a new beta feature wherein any message that has been forwarded five or more times will come to be labelled as ‘frequently forwarded’.
In fact, the Message Info section will be carrying such detail like the exact number of times a message has been forwarded. This again should be a nice indication of the message being in vogue though hopefully, this also makes the sender wary of the authenticity of the news as well. Also, the sender will get to see the frequently forwarded info only with those messages that is being sent and not with those that has been received.
At present, WhatsApp does have a means to curb the spread of fake news. That involves limiting the number of times any message can be forwarded to a maximum of five recipients. Also, the popular messaging service issues prohibitory messages across other media outlets like newspaper ads meant to apprise its users of the menace that fake news has come to be in recent times.
The danger posed by fake news, however, applies to all popular social media outlets as those clearly serve as the preferred medium for the spread of fake news. Numerous social unrests and other undesirable acts such as mob violence too have often been traced back to the spread of fake news through social channels such as WhatsApp or Facebook.
In fact, such enormous clout that fake news has on the society can be gauged from the way it managed to influence the mindset of American voters during their last presidential elections. And now with the largest democracy – read India – in the world gearing up to exercise their electoral rights, it surely is time for the social media outlets to get their acts together to ensure a free and fair elections where the electorate get to cast their votes on a free mind.
Unfortunately, it is not known for sure when the new beta features will be made available to the masses.