With over 200 million users in India, the instant messaging app ‘WhatsApp’ had been cautioned by the government that anti-social elements are using it as a platform to spread fake news, fake videos and rumours. In India, many people forward the messages containing WhatsApp links without checking the authenticity of the message they receive. No doubt, WhatsApp fake news has taken a leap in the country.
Suspicious Link Detection
The Facebook-owned WhatsApp is now testing a new feature called Suspicious Link Detection to curb the menace of spreading fake news, videos, etc. It will detect suspicious links in both received as well as sent messages. If someone receives a link in a message, WhatsApp will detect and analyse whether it may redirect to a fake, dangerous or alternate website. According to a report published on WaBetaInfo, ‘When WhatsApp detects a suspicious link; the message is marked with a red label’. If anyhow, you choose to open the link, WhatsApp will alert you again that you are going to open a possible suspicious link.
WhatsApp will not send data to its servers to detect suspicious links rather analyse it locally to find unusual characters. This feature is in the testing phase for development reasons since the rollout of 2.18.204 beta version and yet not available in 2.18.207 beta version either. I am expecting this feature to be available for the beta testers in the future beta updates. WhatsApp may add the ability to manually report the suspicious links in the future.
The consequences of spreading WhatsApp fake news and WhatsApp rumours
Do you remember the alleged lynching of innocent citizens of India? It was the result of the WhatsApp fake news and WhatsApp rumours spread in different WhatsApp groups circulated by anti-social elements. As a result, the IT Ministry of India asked Facebook-owned ‘WhatsApp’ to take preventive measures to restrict the dissemination of fake news/messages, fake videos, etc. on its platform. Not to mention, WhatsApp has already rolled out a feature to detect the forwarded messages. If someone forwards a message, WhatsApp marks it with a label called ‘Forwarded’ which allows users to distinguish between a forwarded message and original message.
WhatsApp has also introduced a programme to fight the fake news threat in India. The company has announced a special grant of up to $50,000 to the researchers/social scientists who can formulate some proven ways to stop sharing of misinformation, fake news and rumours on WhatsApp.
I request you not to forward any fake news or fake videos and don’t spread rumours on WhatsApp. It could land you in trouble.
I am eager to know what’s your say about WhatsApp Fake News, suspicious links and WhatsApp rumours. Please provide your valuable opinions in the comment section below.
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