Social media can be both good and bad. All sorts of content circulate across platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok and it’s up to the users what they wish to believe and what they don’t. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the spread of misinformation spiked and that led these platforms to bring features that can prevent the circulation of unverified information. The government of India has been warning people to not believe information that isn’t verified.
WhatsApp recently introduced several new features to control the spread of information on its platform. Today, we will discuss all of them and provide some tips to identify false messages.
Messages with the “Forwarded” label help you determine if your friend or relative wrote the message or if it originally came from someone else. When a message is forwarded from one user to another more than five times, it’s indicated with a double arrow icon, highlighting the message to be a “frequently forwarded message”. If you’re not sure who wrote the original message, double-check the facts with trusted news sources.
Photos, audio recordings, and videos can be edited to mislead you. Look at trusted news sources to see if the story has been reported elsewhere. You can type relevant keywords for the story or perform a reverse Google image search.
Many messages or website links you receive containing hoaxes or fake news have spelling mistakes. Look for these signs so you can check if the information is accurate.
We have been told again and again to verify the information before forwarding it to others. Sometimes “forwarded” messages can seem helpful or even harmless especially if they come from family and friends, but no matter the situation, we must confirm the facts of the message before forwarding it ahead. You can verify the message by searching for facts online before sharing it with your contacts. If you’re still not sure if a message is true, check trusted news sites and ask fact-checkers.
If you receive a message that is fake, share the fact with the person who sent it to you. Request them to share only verified information. If a group or contact is constantly sending fake news, feel free to report them.
To ensure your privacy and prevent people from adding you to unwanted groups with unknown members, you can use Group Privacy settings. WhatsApp recently added a new privacy setting and invite system to help you decide who can add you to groups.
To enable go to Settings in your app, then tap Account > Privacy > Groups and select one of three options: Nobody, My Contacts, or Everyone. ‘Nobody’ means you’ll have to approve joining every group to which you’re invited, and ‘My Contacts’ means only users you already know can add you to groups.
Unwanted messages from unauthorized third parties come in many forms, such as spam, hoax and phishing messages. All these types of messages are broadly defined as unsolicited messages from unauthorized third parties that try to deceive you and prompt you to act in a certain way. We always advise you to block the sender, disregard the message and delete it.
When you receive a message from an unknown number for the first time, WhatsApp shows you the option to report the number directly inside the chat. As always, this report sends the most recent messages in the chat to WhatsApp. You can also report a contact or a group from their profile information using the following steps: Open the chat > Tap on the contact or group name to open their profile information > scroll to the bottom and tap “Report contact” or “Report group“.
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You can stop receiving messages, calls, and status updates from certain contacts by blocking them. Tap More > settings > contacts > blocked contacts. For more information, please take a look at this video. To know more, click here.