In a bid to curb the spread of disinformation and fake news, Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp has now introduced a 'search the web' feature for its users in select countries.
The new feature provides a simple way to Google search messages that have been forwarded many times to fact check claims and information. The new update also brings a special forwarded label - two arrows - to messages shared in chats that have been forwarded multiple times. This helps users to know when they have received content that was not written by a close contact or forwarded many times.
The feature is being piloted in six countries - Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, UK, and US - for those on the latest versions of WhatsApp for Android, iOS and WhatsApp Web.
"Today, we're piloting a simple way to double check these messages by tapping a magnifying glass button in the chat. Providing a simple way to search messages that have been forwarded many times may help people find news results or other sources of information about content they have received," WhatsApp said in a statement on Monday, August 3.
The company also shared a screenshot showing how the feature works, which shows the example of a message that contained the claim that "drinking fresh boiled garlic water will cure Covid-19". After using the web search option, three fact-checking websites showed that the claim is false.
"This feature works by allowing users to upload the message via their browser without WhatsApp ever seeing the message itself," the company said.
Earlier, the company had introduced a feature to limit forwarding of messages that had not come from a close contact. Under this, forwarded messages can only be forwarded to one more person at a time, instead of the earlier limit of five.Also Read: Facebook To Launch New Section To Debunk COVID-19 Myths