WhatsApp Launches Search the Web Feature to Fight Misinformation, Rolling Out in Select Countries

WhatsApp has introduced a new Search the Web feature that will allow users to check, with just a tap, the authenticity of a forwarded message and if it has been debunked on the Internet. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the spread of fake news has been increasing, and this new feature by the Facebook-owned company will help keep a check on misinformation. Search the Web is initially being rolled out in select countries, and has not yet been launched in India.

Through the Search the Web feature on WhatsApp, you can tap on the magnifying glass icon located next to the message that has been forwarded many times. By tapping on this, you will be redirected to your default browser, where the message will be uploaded. This will allow you to check the authenticity of the message through Web results that could include articles that have debunked the message as fake.

“Providing a simple way to search messages that have been forwarded many times may help people find news results or other sources of information about content they have received,” said WhatsApp while announcing the feature through a blog post.

WhatsApp lets you see if a message sent to you has been forwarded through the forwarded label visible on the top of the message. Earlier this year, WhatsApp had also set a limit on how many times a message can be forwarded. This was done to maintain the private nature of WhatsApp, according to the company’s blog post. The Search the Web feature has been in the works for months.

WhatsApp said that through Search the Web, users will be able to upload the forwarded messages on their browsers without WhatApp ever seeing the message itself. Currently, Search the Web is being rolled out in Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, the UK, and the US for users that have the latest version of WhatsApp on Android, iPhone, and WhatsApp Web.

In March, WhatsApp had received a bot from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that provided users latest information about coronavirus pandemic and busted myths related to it. In India, the Central government had also launched the MyGov Corona Helpdesk around the same time to create awareness and provide information from health experts about COVID-19.


In 2020, will WhatsApp get the killer feature that every Indian is waiting for? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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