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WhatsApp's latest feature will help stop you falling for fake news

WhatsApp
(Image credit: pixabay)

WhatsApp has been testing a batch of exciting new features for a while now, and the latest one to roll out to the masses will make it much easier to spot hoaxes and misinformation.

The ease and speed with which messages can be shared with large numbers of people on WhatsApp has seen the platform become a breeding ground for viral fake news. Now a new feature makes it possible to quickly perform a web search for a message or image that you've received so you can do a quick fact check.

The idea is a fairly simple one, and it joins a growing number of tools WhatsApp has been rolling out to try to stem the flow of fake news in chats. The Facebook-owned messaging tool already places a limit on the number of people a message can be forwarded to at one time in a bid to stop misinformation being disseminated to large numbers of people at once.

WhatsApp also highlights messages that have been forwarded a lot on the platform in the hope that this will encourage people to view the contents of such messages with healthy suspicions and perhaps perform a little research into it. With the new feature, this process of conducting research into the veracity of messages has just been made a great deal quicker and easier.

Fact or fiction?

WhatsApp explains that it is now giving users a way to check messages by simply tapping a magnifying glass icon with a chat. This quickly performs a Google search for the text or image in the message, and will hopefully enable you to determine whether the content is reliable or not.

The company stresses that all messages that are uploaded are protect by end-to-end encryption, so you don't need to worry about WhatsApp seeing anything private. The feature is making its way to users in Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US, but it's not clear if there are plans to bring it to other parts of the world.

Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson

Sofia is a tech journalist who's been writing about software, hardware and the web for nearly 20 years – but still looks as youthful as ever! After years writing for magazines, life moved online and remains fuelled by technology, music and nature.


Having written for websites and magazine since 2000, producing a wide range of reviews, guides, tutorials, brochures, newsletters and more, Sofia continues to write for diverse audiences, from computing newbies to advanced users and business clients. Always willing to try something new, sharing new discoveries is a major passion.


Sofia lives and breathes Windows, Android, iOS, macOS and just about anything with a power button, but particular areas of interest include security, tweaking and privacy.