Awareness is without doubt our biggest weapon in the ongoing battle against COVID-19 — a new coronavirus disease. Thanks to the social media, in a matter of seconds, we can meet millions of people for better or worse.
Most of us are more than aware that social media is having a positive effect. Therefore, we take the time to think about these services’ greatest pitfall — untamed dissemination of unfounded rumors.
Why it’s important to filter fake news?
COVID-19 is one of the world’s biggest threats. So, it’s not unusual for us to worry, or pay attention to any negative piece of news that we come across. Yet when we receive the news from a credible source or the authorities concerned, we’ll have to learn to take it with a pinch of salt.
Through leveraging our ignorance and insecurity, these fake news-distributing websites seek to generate more traffic. And once we step into the pit, unknowingly we take the carrier ‘s position, we become a part of the cycle ourselves and infect more and more people. It’s not the easiest of tasks, but we must remain vigilant in these times and try to filter out everything that could mislead the masses.
WhatsApp’s ‘Search the Web’ feature to the rescue
The leading cross-platform messaging app, WhatsApp, has come up with a Search the web feature, which will effectively help you filter out most of the fake news and stories. Keep in mind that this feature is still in its pilot phase and as of now, WhatsApp has rolled it out on iOS, Android, and Web for Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, UK, and the US only.
Whenever a popular message is forwarded to you, you will be able to see a search icon right next to it. Tap on it, and a Google search will show up for any heavily-forwarded text. Check the top results to see whether the news is fake or legitimate. This beauty of the Search the Web features lies in how it maintains the privacy of the user, allowing them to upload the message via their browser without WhatsApp ever seeing the message itself.
How to use the search button to spot fake news
Note: The search button will not be available for every forwarded message. Only is WhatsApp thinks that a message is very popular, will it begin to show the search button on the right of the message, image or video.
So, if you see a Search button on the right side of a message or media file, you can use it to verify the authenticity of the message.
Step 1: Tap the Search button (as shown in the screenshot below).
Step 2: Tap the Search Web option. This will search for the message’s content on Google.
Step 3: Browse through the results to determine the news on the content in the message. If there is not much news available on this from trusted sources, or if there are legitimated and verified reports stating that the news is fake, then need we say more?
Widespread disinformation and false news are an effective way of causing mass hysteria and violence. Although it is commendable that Facebook ensures its apps will shield the user from such an influx of disinformation, one also needs to remain personally accountable. Whatever kind of information WhatsApp University that claim to bestow on you at the end of the day, it’s always your duty as a consumer to test and verify anything, all the time if possible. As truth becomes stranger than fiction, our diligence will play a very crucial role, now more than ever, in demarcating the difference. Look out and stay woke!
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