WhatsApp is working on a way to look up messages sent in the app directly on the internet. The messages are then uploaded to a search engine. WhatsApp hopes to combat fake news in this way.
The new feature allows users to get more information about certain messages. This concerns messages that have been forwarded several times. An icon with a magnifying glass appears with such messages, the service writes. Users who click on that magnifying glass will see a pop-up where they can search for more information on the web. The message is then uploaded to the default web browser, where users will find search results about the text. That way, WhatsApp doesn’t read the message itself.
The magnifying glass replaces the option to forward the message even further. It is not clear whether this is still possible via the menu. The feature is available for both the iOS and Android apps, and via WhatsApp Web.
WhatsApp has long struggled with its role in the debate about fake news and misinformation. Because the messages on WhatsApp are encrypted, the service cannot filter messages. Partly because of this, a lot of fake news is distributed via the service. WhatsApp is now rolling out the feature to various countries such as Brazil, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom and the US.