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WhatsApp rolls out ‘Forwarded’ label to fight misinformation

In India, more than 30 people have been killed in the past year by lynch mobs because of WhatsApp messages

WhatsApp logo is displayed on a smartphone.

New Delhi: Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Tuesday rolled out a “Forwarded” label feature to its 1.5 million monthly active users globally.

The new feature will indicate which messages are forwards.

India, which has more than 200 million users of the app, has seen a spate of violent behaviour after the spread of misinformation on the programme; WhatsApp was directed by the Indian government on July 3 to take immediate action.

In its reply to the IT Ministry the next day, WhatsApp said it has been testing a new label in India that highlights when a message has been forwarded versus when it has been composed by the sender.

While announcing the new feature on Tuesday, WhatsApp said this extra context would help make one-on-one and group chats easier to follow. 

“It also helps you determine if your friend or relative wrote the message they sent or if it originally came from someone else,” WhatsApp said in a statement.

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To see this new forwarded label, the users need to have the latest supported version of WhatsApp on their phones.

“This could serve as an important signal for recipients to think twice before forwarding messages because it lets a user know if content they received was written by the person they know or a potential rumour from someone else,” the company informed. 

According to media reports, more than 30 people have been killed in the past  year alone by lynch mobs after rumours of child abductions triggered by messages on WhatsApp. 

WhatsApp also advised people to exercise caution while sharing forwarded messages.

“WhatsApp cares deeply about your safety. We encourage you to think before sharing messages that were forwarded. 

“As a reminder, you can report spam or block a contact in one tap and can always reach out to WhatsApp directly for help,” the company said in the fresh statement.

WhatsApp on Tuesday published advertisements in key Indian newspapers to tackle the spread of misinformation.

“Together we can fight false information,” read full-page advertisements, urging users to check information before sharing it. 

This article first appeared on GulfNews.com