You can now say goodbye to annoying broadcast messages from your friends on WhatsApp, as WhatsApp just introduced a new feature designed to help its users identify the origin of information that they receive in the messaging app.
Finally, a forwarded WhatsApp message will include an indicator that marks it as forwarded. This may seem like a small move for the messaging platform, but this move is potentially one that will make a big difference in the way people spread information, especially wrong information over the app.
The Updated version of WhatsApp includes the feature, which marks forwarded messages in italics right above the content of the message.
Last week, India’s Information Technology Ministry issued a warning to WhatsApp specifically:
” Instances of the 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 Bengals are deeply painful and regrettable.
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 is equally a matter of deep concern. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has taken serious note of these irresponsible messages and their circulation in such platforms. 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 the proliferation of these fake and at times motivated/sensational messages. The Government has also directed that spread of such messages should be immediately contained through the application of appropriate technology.
It has also been pointed out that such a platform cannot evade accountability and responsibility especially when some miscreants who resort to provocative messages, which lead to the spread of violence, abuse good technological inventions.
The Government has also conveyed clearly that WhatsApp must take immediate action to end this menace and ensure that their platform is not used for such maladies activities.“
In a blog post accompanying the new message feature, WhatsApp encouraged its users to stop and think before sharing a forwarded message.
The question, however, remains: will this feature help the platform battle false news?