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November 21, 2018

WhatsApp enables users to identify forwarded messages

A man poses with a smartphone in front of displayed Whatsapp logo in this illustration September 14, 2017. /REUTERS
A man poses with a smartphone in front of displayed Whatsapp logo in this illustration September 14, 2017. /REUTERS

WhatsApp users will now think twice before hitting the forward button as a new feature that labels unoriginal texts has been launched.

The new feature is characterised by the word 'forwarded' on top of any message that is shared.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, launched the forwards label in India on Tuesday, weeks after the government told it to use technology to fight fake news and misinformation.

“This extra context will help make one on one and group chats easier to follow. It also helps you determine if your friend or relative wrote a message or if it came from someone else. To see this new forwarded label, you need to have the latest version of WhatsApp," a statement stated.

In response to the government’s directive, WhatsApp considered the use of machine learning techniques to identify unwanted and harmful information.

The Economic Times reported that WhatsApp also released full-page advertisements in national dailies in India to educate people on fake news.

 The ET said that rumours on WhatsApp have resulted in the deaths of about 31 people in 10 states in the last year.

Reuters reported that India asked WhatsApp to take steps to prevent the circulation of false texts and provocative content that have led to a series of lynchings and mob beatings across the country in the past few months.

With more than 200 million users in India, WhatsApp's biggest market in the world, false news and videos circulating on the messaging app have become a new headache for social media giant Facebook, already grappling with a privacy scandal.

So far this year, false messages about child abductors on WhatsApp have helped to trigger mass beatings of more than a dozen people in India - at least three of whom have died.

In addition, five people were beaten to death by a mob on Sunday in a fresh incident of lynching in India's western state of Maharashtra on suspicions that they were child abductors.

Read: WhatsApp rolls out new group chat features

Also read: WhatsApp 'delete for everyone' isn't as safe as you think

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