New WhatsApp update tells you how many times a message has been forwarded

A photo of WhatsApp running on a phone in the background, a featured image for WhatsApp Beta gets forward counter with WhatsApp icon
Design by Bisma / TechEngage | Image via Pixabay

There are some important changes on the horizon with WhatsApp’s newest beta update, including efforts to curb the spread of fake news.

If you are on the beta channel for WhatsApp on iOS and Android, you’ll need to download update for iOS and 2.19.86 on Android to get a peek at the newest feature.

According to WABetaInfo, users will be able to track forwarded messages after they have been passed on over 5 times, a feature that is automatically enabled for those on the latest beta version. If you’re curious about a message’s history, just choose the message you suspect is spam and press the three dots at the top right of the window (followed by Info if you are on Android). On iOS, you need to long press the message and choose Info.

If a message has been forwarded too many times the feature will now let you see the source of the original message.

WhatsApp also has plans to roll out a reverse image search, similar to Google’s. This will further help reduce fake news by letting users verify the source and original date of an image (many misleading news stories use old photos or take them out of context).

Recently, WhatsApp reduced the number of people users could forward a message to in order to avoid spamming.

Now, with the ability to see how often a message has been forwarded, users will be able to identify viral content and hopefully take a closer look at the source and do some fact-checking. Of course, this only acts as a heads-up to users, who still have to use their own best judgment, and it doesn’t completely stop fake news (which continues to be a menace in countries like India).

Fake news, while a controversial phrase, is especially rampant at times of civil or political unrest as messages are circulated to create confusion or even anger amongst citizens. People who believe the news spread this information to others, sometimes causing chaos and even violence.

While it’s good to see media channels like WhatsApp building tools to thwart the spread of fake news, much of the responsibility still lies with users who should always try to fact-check stories before passing them along.

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