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WhatsApp test highlights frequently forwarded messages to curb fake news

A beta test shows when a message has clearly made the rounds.
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Reuters/Thomas White

WhatsApp is experimenting with yet more tools to help fight the spread of fake news. A new beta for Android labels messages you send as "frequently forwarded" if they've been shared five or more times. You can even see the exact forwarding count by diving into the Message Info section. It's limited to messages you send rather than ones you receive, but it could give you second thoughts about sharing a sensationalist piece more than once.

It's not certain if or when this will reach the standard WhatsApp releases, although its presence in the beta program suggests it's largely a matter of time.

The messaging giant is certainly under pressure to act. Critics have blamed fake news on WhatsApp for spurring lynchings and other violence in India, and Facebook has gone so far as to run newspaper ads and hire dedicated staff to keep a lid on misinformation. If WhatsApp can call out questionable messages through methods like this, it might not need to resort to drastic measures in the future.

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