Some WhatsApp messages may now contain a magnifying glass icon - here's what that means

Business Insider US

  • WhatsApp, the popular, Facebook-owned messaging app, is rolling out a feature that helps users fact-check information forwarded in message chains.
  • A magnifying glass icon now appears in the chat, which can redirect users to search the web for sources of information on the topic discussed in the message.
  • The feature is the company's latest attempt to help curb the spread of misinformation.
  • In early April, WhatsApp set a limit for how many times a message can be forwarded at one time in response to a rise in misinformation surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

WhatsApp rolled out a feature allowing users to fact-check content contained in forwarded message chains.

A magnifying glass will now appear alongside messages that have been forwarded to five people or more, according to a company blog post published Monday. Users can click the icon and be redirected to the web to search for news results that shed more light on the topic discussed in the messages.

Per the blog post, users can upload the message directly into their web browser to more easily search for other sources of information, and WhatsApp does not see the message itself.

The feature, dubbed "Search the web," rolled out to users in the US, the UK, Brazil, and other locales on Monday. WhatsApp did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

WhatsApp is one of the many social media firms tasked with combatting misinformation on their platforms, and this new feature is the company's latest attempt to do so.

WhatsApp set a 5-person limit for the number of times a message can be forwarded at one time in early April in response to a rise in misinformation and conspiracy theories pertaining to the Cocid-19 pandemic. A company spokesperson told Business Insider in late April that WhatsApp indeed saw a 70% drop in the number of messages frequently forwarded to users. WhatsApp does not view the messages, but sharing private messages en masse is one way in which misinformation can more easily spread.

A double-arrow symbol also appears next to a forwarded message a user receives if it was written by someone they do not know.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in early 2014.

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