Mumbai: About a month after announcing "monetary awards" for research on fake news and misinformation, WhatsApp late on Tuesday unleashed a number of new features that included labelling of all forwarded messages.
“Starting today, WhatsApp will indicate which messages you receive have been forwarded to you. The new feature will help make one-on-one and group chats easier to follow. It will also help you to determine if your friend or relative wrote the message they sent or if it originally came from someone else,” the popular instant messaging service said in a blog post.
"To see this new forwarded label, you need to have the latest supported version of WhatsApp on your phone,” it added.
The move follows the ongoing debate in various parts of the world, including India, on tackling spread of fake information on the platform owned by social media network Facebook.
Alarmed by continued violence and lynching of innocents, the NDA government in New Delhi had in the last week asked WhatsApp to prevent proliferation of fake, motivated and sensational messages circluating on the popular social media site.
"Instances of lynching of innocent people have been noticed recently because of a large number of irresponsible and explosive messages filled with rumours and provocation are being circulated on WhatsApp. The unfortunate killing in many states such as Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tripura and West Bengal are deeply painful and regretable", the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said on Tuesday.
"While the Law and order machinery is taking steps to apprehend the culprits, the abuse of platform like WhatsApp for repeated circulation of such provocative content are equally a matter of deep concern", the ministry said.
Stating that the ministry has taken serious note of these irresponsible messages and their circulation using such platform, it said, "Deep disapproval of such developments has been conveyed to the senior management of the WhatsApp and they have been advised that necessary remedial measures should be taken to prevent proliferation of these fake and at times motivated/sensational messages."
Responding to the government notice, WhatsApp had said that it was testing a new label which would highlight when a message has been forwarded.
“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,” it had said.
“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", WhatsApp said in the blog post about a month after it announced “unrestricted monetary awards” for research on spread of misinformation on its platform to address the problem.
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