WhatsApp features and tips you must use to be safe and spot fake news


By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: May 13, 2020 8:02:20 pm

whatsapp, fake news, scam messages, spam messages, identify fake news, whatsapp safety, whatsapp fake news How to spot and stop fake news on WhatsApp. (Express photo: Shruti Dhapola)

The menace of fake news is as dangerous as it can get, and at this time of crises it has become even more problematic. Messages carrying false information regarding the lockdown guidelines and Covid-19 precautions are running wild on WhatsApp.

The Facebook-owned platform has long served as the breeding ground for frauds and misinformation and to counter that the messaging platform has rolled out quite few features. WhatsApp has also prepared a list of safety steps to help make the user experience safe and secure by identifying fake messages and WhatsApp forwards containing misinformation. We are mentioning these tips below:

Understand when a message is forwarded

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.

Check photos and media carefully

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.

Look out for messages that look different

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.

Verify information before forwarding

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.

Also read | Spot and Stop: 5 tips to curb the menace of fake news on WhatsApp

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.

Group Privacy Settings

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.

Also read | WhatsApp group privacy settings: Here’s how it works, how to enable, and invite users to groups now

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.

Avoid scams

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.

Also read | Jio, Facebook giving free 25GB daily data for 6-months? Beware, it’s a new COVID-19 scam

Report them

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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Block the person

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.

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Written by sortiwa


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