While instant messaging has made the world smaller than ever before, it has also increased the power of rumours and hearsay. For many years now, WhatsApp has been arguably the most popular platform for communication among families, friends, colleagues and even businesses all over the globe. And as expected, it has also been at the centre of this rise of fake information, which gets mass-forwarded among users and often leads to undesirable results. But it's not just text you need to be wary of—in a world of Photoshop and deep fakes, even the pictures and videos you receive should be subjected to scrutiny.

In a bid to curb the spread of fake news and false imagery, WhatsApp launched a 'Frequently Forwarded' feature in 2019, which tagged messages that had been forwarded by a large number of users. And now, reports indicate that the company might be working on a feature that would allow you to fact check individual messages as well. Here's everything you need to know about it.

How will the verification work?

Note that WhatsApp can already detect forwarded messages. So, for this feature, WhatsApp will add a search icon right next to the text that has been forwarded. When a user taps that icon, a prompt will ask the user if they want to search the text on Google to check for authenticity. If selected, a browser page will open with a Google search, where the user can access information related to the text of the message. As fact-checking organisations and websites often put out clarifications related to popular rumours, it might also be possible to get a result directly from them about whether a particular report is true or not.

When is it coming?

The feature is currently under development, and any information available on it is only based on a beta version. Reports state that it will roll out to Android first, and subsequently be available for iOS users as well. However, we should remember that last year, there was a lot of information about WhatsApp releasing a similar feature, which would allow users to verify the authenticity of images via a reverse search. But it is yet to be launched on any platform by the company. Although, it could be combined with this feature to provide overall verification to the users.

Like this story? Also read: Five tips to keep your smartphone clean
Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

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