WhatsApp rolls out ‘Forwarded’ label to fight misinformation

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FILE PHOTO: A man poses with a smartphone in front of displayed Whatsapp logo in this illustration September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

NEW DELHI – Taking cognizance of the misuse of its platform for repeated circulation of provocative content, Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Tuesday rolled out “Forwarded” label to its 1.5 million monthly active users globally, including over 200 millions in India.

The feature will indicate which messages you receive have been forwarded to you in the group or individually.

WhatsApp was pulled up by the Indian government on July 3 and directed to take immediate action in the light of growing instances of lynching of innocent people owing to irresponsible messages filled with rumors and provocation circulated on its platform.

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 composed by the sender.

While announcing the new feature on Tuesday, WhatsApp said this extra context will 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.

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 rumor from someone else,” the company informed.

According to media reports, more than 30 people have been killed in the past one year by lynch mobs after rumors of child lifting 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.

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