WhatsApp ad campaign offers tips for users to combat fake news

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Facebook Inc.'s WhatsApp messaging platform on Tuesday published advertisements in key Indian newspapers to tackle the spread of misinformation, its first such effort to combat a flurry of fake messages that prompted mob lynchings.

WhatsApp has been under pressure from Indian authorities lately for a slew of killings that allegedly originated from hoax messages sent on the app. Going ahead, the instant messaging app is also keen to add a feature where the authenticity of website links being forwarded through messages is reliable or not.

From now on, WhatsApp will put a "forwarded" label on these messages.

According to a report by WABetainfo, the new feature will restrict the spam circulation by scanning the links that are being sent or received by the users. Whatsapp came under scrutiny after it was found out that more than a dozen people got killed in a mob violence across five states of India due to the misinformation which was being spread through Whatsapp in the last two months. We encourage you to think before sharing forwarded messages.

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In its reply to the Union Ministry of Information and Technology, WhatsApp had said it was "horrified by these awful acts of violence", and called the situation a "challenge that requires government, civil society and technology companies to work together". Of course if the latter is more popular, then the addition of a label would quite possibly lead to easier identification of forwarded messages and reduction in the spread of unverified news - an activity which is unfortunately quite common these days. If the person identifies and you wish to add to your contacts that is also feasible.

With India being its biggest market with over 200 million users, the Facebook Inc-owned messenger service had asserted that it responds to "valid" law enforcement requests in investigating crimes.

The new feature has been spotted by some users as working in WhatsApp, already. If WhatsApp detects a suspicious link, the message will be marked with a red label, indicating to the user that the link is suspicious. Messages will be highlighted to make a difference that the message was not typed out but just forwarded.

The feature is available in the WhatsApp beta version 2.18.204 or later for Android, but can only be accessed by a handful of users in its initial stages.

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