WhatsApp counters fake viral messages with new fact-check tool

Fake news has been a thorn in the side of nearly all social media sites, including messaging service WhatsApp. To help combat the spread of false viral stories, WhatsApp has launched a new feature allowing users to fact-check messages quickly.

If someone forwards you a link on WhatsApp to a story that’s been deemed “viral,” you’ll see a magnifying glass button next to the forwarded message. If you click that button, WhatsApp sends the message to Google to search for news surrounding the forwarded message.

While this won’t immediately prove or disprove a viral post, it’ll give the recipient the chance to quickly fact-check the message themself.

WhatsApp doesn’t offer any clarity on how it determines a link is worthy of the fact-checking magnifying glass. All the announcement says is it covers “messages that have been forwarded many times.”

This isn’t the first action WhatsApp has taken to curb the spread of false information. It’s also created a forward label — two arrows — that appear next to any forwarded link and limited the number of times a user can forward a message at once.

While this isn’t a brand-new new feature — Android Police reportedly spotted WhatsApp testing it in March — it is the feature’s official rollout in the US and other key markets, including Mexico, Spain and the UK.

This new fact-checking feature is now available on WhatsApp iOS, Android and web. If you notice your WhatsApp doesn’t have it, you likely need to head to your preferred app store and update to the latest WhatsApp version.