Let’s get one thing straight:
Fake news isn’t funny.
In fact, it could be the difference between life and death, as India so tragically proved. Following a single WhatsApp rumour that follows an apparent child-lifting gang, India has seen 29 innocent lives “lynched” for their supposed part in a gang that doesn’t even exist.
Oh yes, it’s not just Facebook that’s facing the cane. At least Facebook is open for all to see (and comment on); for WhatsApp, it’s a different ball game altogether.
WhatsApp steps up its game
However, that case seemed to have been the turning point, seeing how WhatsApp has taken the matter very seriously and promised to release new features that will circumvent such practices and ensure nothing like it happens again.
And as it turns out, the new features might already be in play.
“Suspicious Link Detection”, WhatsApp’s Weapon
Introducing “Suspicious Link Detection”, a feature that apparently fights the spread of fake news and spamming of malicious or fake links on the platform.
First spotted by keen-eyed WABetaInfo, which has provided us countless reliable WhatsApp updates, the feature’s apparently in beta version 2.18.204 of WhatsApp for Android.
And according to the blog post, it will help users in determining suspicious links by “automatically detecting whether the URL leads to a fake or malicious website” and verify its authenticity.
If the app finds a link suspicious, it would take immediate actions to correct it by labelling it in red colour. This would effectively mean that the link has been classified under ‘spamming’.
You know, sort of like the red curvy line you see when you spell Heaven as Yishun.
If the user still insists on opening it, WhatsApp will send another prompt message to reconfirm, before granting access.
Worried about your privacy? Don’t be. Every time WhatsApp analyses a link, it does so in local context without sending any data packets to its servers. Therefore, your privacy is really in safe hands even when the app’s busy combating those darn fake news sources.
Still under development
According to Fossbytes, the feature’s still under development, and there’s no word from WhatsApp on when the update will be released officially. However, there’re rumours going abroad that the feature may come accompanied with an ability to let users “manually report” a suspicious link.
Which is pretty handy, truth be told. Although you can be sure as heck that some smart aleck will probably abuse it and start reporting random links.
But at least, if your old relative has once seen the red line, he’ll know that fake news does exist. It’s all about awareness, my dear Jedi.
Let’s make the world a better place
Fake news isn’t funny. And that’s all the more so if it actually gets people killed.
As such, endeavour to keep a look out for such news, because you never know whether your loved ones might be next in line to get affected.
So stay safe, wear protection and try not to give in to temptation (of fake news).
P.S. I’VE JUST RECEIVED INTEL THAT JUSTIN BIEBER’S GETTING MARRIED.
P.S.S. THE SOURCE IS GOODY FEED SO IT’S CONFIRM TRUE.
P.I.S.S. IN GOODY FEED WE TRUST.
Now you know what Singaporeans are talking about today; do check back tomorrow for another piece of news of the day!