WhatsApp’s latest attempt to counter fake news includes introducing a ‘search image’ feature on to the messaging platform that has 200 million users in India.
Fighting fake news and misinformation has been one of the primary issues that the election commission in India has trying prevent ahead of the general elections in India this year. And the ‘search image’ option within the app will allow WhatsApp users to backtrack the origin of any image that’s sent to them.
In order for users to verify whether an image is fake or real, WhatsApp will first have to upload the image from the user’s chat to Google and then use the search giant’s algorithm to determine the source. According to WABetainfo, WhatsApp will be able to do using Google’s application programming interfaces (APIs).
The feature was spotted on new the WhatsApp beta 2.19.73 update by WABetainfo. The feature isn’t live for users yet, but screenshots suggest that it’s being tested for Android at the moment.
WhatsApp’s bout with fake news
Last year, WhatsApp got into hot water when a fake video was circulated on the platform leading to a series of lynchings across India.
Since then, the Indian government has put pressure on the Facebook-owned company to curb the amount of fake news that’s propagated on the messaging service. In turn, WhatsApp limited user forwards to 5 messages, introduced forward notifications and ran a number of campaigns across radio and print to raise awareness about how to use the platform responsibly.
The Indian government is on high alert against the influence of social networks and is keen to avoid another scandal like ‘Cambridge Analytica’, which harvested the personal data of 87 million users to peddle misinformation on Facebook allegedly helping swing the 2016 US elections in Donald Trump’s favour.
Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram were also collectively called before a parliamentary committee that is looking to functioning of social networks during the election on March 6. They have till tomorrow to respond panel’s questions on how the platforms are going to regulate and monitor the content ahead of the general elections.