Facebook's popular Messenger has been given a new feature to help control forwarded messages in WhatsApp. The app already displayed a special label for these forwarded messages. These double arrows indicate that a message was not written by a friend or acquaintance themselves, but was just forwarded.
As the company states in a blog post, the app now goes one step further and allows direct searches on the web. In addition to a forwarded message, a magnifying glass is now displayed next to it, which can be used to check the content of a message on the web. This is intended to make it easier for users to check for themselves what a message is all about.
According to the developers, the content of the message is not transmitted to WhatsApp, but ends up directly in the browser. So the company does not examine the content of the messages itself. Since the messages are transmitted in encrypted form, the company cannot proactively filter such messages, but must leave it up to the user to find out about the content.
The new feature is available today in WhatsApp for iOS, Android and the Web. The feature will initially be available in Brazil, the UK, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and the USA.
WhatsApp: Another step against viral news distribution
To counteract the fight against viral messages, which nowadays often contain false information, the company had already restricted the forwarding of messages in an earlier step. The double arrow, which indicates a forwarded message, has been part of the app for quite some time.
Thus, since April, such viral messages can only be forwarded to one person. Previously it was limited to five contacts. WhatsApp said that this has reduced the distribution of these messages by 70 percent. However, how many of these messages really contained incorrect information is unknown.