In a move that has likely been designed to reduce the impact of spam and fake news being spread on its platform, WhatsApp is beta testing a feature that labels messages forwarded from another chat or from within the same chat as “Forwarded Message”
“Forwarded Message” will appear on top of every post that spammers forward to groups en masse.
The feature was first reported by wabetainfo.com, a site that follows the WhatsApp Beta Program on Android. The feature reportedly appears on 2.18.67. The rollout, however, seems to be limited to certain users as we were not able to test this feature for ourselves.
“Today, WhatsApp has modified the behaviour of the feature, that will show on the bubble (when the feature will be enabled in future), a “Forwarded Message” string, if the message has been forwarded from another chat (or from the same chat),” said the report.
When a message is forwarded a lot of times, you can notice the label on the bubble(screenshot above).
WhatsApp spam and fake news
Whatsapp has a serious problem with fake news and rumour-mongering on its platform with most such messages being sent out in mass forwards to a large number of groups. This can sometimes flare up as incidents of violence.
The recent violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj showed the threat WhatsApp can pose in sensitive areas. After the death of a youth, Chandan Gupta, in the violence, rumours were spread claiming the death of another person — Rahul Upadhyay. These rumours were circulated on primarily on WhatsApp groups, among other social media platforms.
In May 2017, rumours about child abductors in a village triggered lynchings which led to the deaths of seven people. In August, rumours about an occult gang chopping off women’s braids in northern India spread panic, and a woman was killed.
Other platforms approach to spam and fake news
At the NAMApolicy event on ‘Fake News’ in February, Twitter India’s Mahima Kaul said that the platform catches 3.2 million suspicious accounts every week and these accounts are not added to the Monthly Active Users (MAUs) stat by the company. In an effort nix suspicious accounts at the point of creation Kaul added that 450,000 suspicious logins are dealt with every day.
In December 2017, Twitter had released guidelines to implement changes in their policy to reduce hateful imagery, violent threats and groups inciting or glorifying brutality.
Facebook has said that it would prioritise content that has been shared by friends and family while de-emphasizing content from publishers and businesses. This had been a response to the issue of a large number of unscrupulous publishers sharing fake news on the platform which led to the company facing severe criticism and attention from governments and law enforcement.