NEW DELHI: Facebook-owned WhatsApp launched its “forwards label” in India, a measure it expects will help users identify if a text or a video is not originally composed and forwarded from another user.
The latest move from WhatsApp comes weeks after the government told the messaging platform to use technology to combat fake news and misinformation on its platform.
On Tuesday, the platform also released full-page advertisements in national dailies to educate people on fake news.
In a statement, WhatsApp said that starting today (Tuesday), it will indicate which messages received have been forwarded to the user.
“This extra context will help make one-onone and group chats easier to follow. It also helps you determine if your friend or relative wrote the message they sent or if it is originally came from someone else. To see this new forwarded label, you need to have the latest version of WhatsApp.”
It added that WhatsApp encourages people to think before sharing messages that were forwarded.
In a response to the government’s directive last week, the messaging service, proposed the use of machine learning techniques to identify malicious content and said it was testing a method to identify forwards while also beginning an exercise with academia to study how misinformation is spread in the country. The government had asked the firm to implement these measures quickly. Rumours on WhatsApp platform have led to the death of nearly 31people in 10 states over the past one year. The incidents of violence include lynch mobs mobilised by rumours of child lifting spread over WhatsApp in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Assam. “Together we can fight false information,” read full-page ads in some top English languagenewspapers, Reuters reported.
The ads mention several ways of identifying fake news and urged users to check information before sharing it and cautioned them about the spread of fake news.
A WhatsApp spokesman told Reuters that this is part of an “education campaign in India” on how to spot fake news and rumours.