Wednesday, December 8

How to use WhatsApp’s fact-checking feature to research the validity of viral, forwarded messages


  • You can now use WhatsApp to fact-check messages within the app — a new feature launched in August 2020 with the aim of combating misinformation.
  • Fact-checking can be used to determine whether the content of a viral message sent or received via WhatsApp is actually true by using a Google search on particular messages.
  • Messages that have been forwarded to five or more people will be marked with a fact-checking option.
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With the rise of misinformation online and particularly on social media apps, WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned instant messaging app, released its own fact-checking feature. Launched in six countries — Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, the UK, and the US — it allows users to conduct Google searches on information contained in viral messages they receive, hopefully halting the dissemination of falsified or inaccurate news.

Utilizing WhatsApp’s fact-check feature is simple enough, though not entirely foolproof as the app itself isn’t disproving or corroborating message content (in fact, WhatsApp claims they can’t actually see message content). Instead, it’s relying on Google to provide search results that may help users decide whether or not the content of a message is reliable, and given that Google isn’t always successful at ensuring false stories don’t rank highly in search engine results , it can be hit or miss.

How to use the WhatsApp fact-check feature

WhatsApp’s fact-checking feature couldn’t be easier to use. While it’s only available on messages that have been forwarded within the app at least five times, if you do happen to receive one such message, you can verify the information it contains by simply double-tapping the magnifying glass icon that appears to the right of the message itself.

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By clicking on the magnifying glass icon beside a forwarded message, you can search its contents on the web.

WhatsApp


From there, WhatsApp will prompt you by asking whether you would like to launch a Google search by uploading the message to the search engine. Simply tap “Search Web” and your device’s browser will give you a list of results that relate to the message. From there, you can do your research and decide for yourself whether what you’re reading is accurate.



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