WhatsApp now lets you search forwarded messages for fact checking

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Messaging apps are a great source of information but also a fountain of misinformation, fake news, and unreliable forwarded messages as well. WhatsApp previously introduced a special label for messages that have been forwarded several times so you’re aware that it’s not that original. Now they’re adding a magnifying glass to that label so it would be easier for you to fact check any message that has been forwarded by searching the web. And during times like this when information is crucial, this should be a useful tool.

Previously, WhatsApp would attach two arrows to messages that have been forwarded several times to indicate that this particular message wasn’t actually written by your contact but has probably come from somewhere else and has been forwarded to several people. They also later on also set limits as to how many times you can send a message in one go in order to slow users down from mass forwarding things all the time.

Now, you will also be able to double-check if the message is factual or maybe even trace the roots of it to make sure that it’s not some conspiracy theory level message. You can tap the magnifying glass button on the right and it will ask you if you would like to search the message or the link on the web. If you want to proceed, it will upload the message to Google and hopefully give you the answers you’re looking for.

This is one way to circumvent the end-to-end encryption that WhatsApp offers. Since they can’t see the messages and therefore verify or correct them, it is now up to the user whether they would like to verify the message and upload it to Google without letting the server see. But of course, once you upload the search to Google, then it’s not encrypted anymore.

The search option on WhatsApp has rolled out to Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, UK, and the US. You need to update to the latest version of the app to see that magnifying glass.

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