In an attempt to curtail spammy content and fake news, WhatsApp seems to be testing out a feature that could help users cut through the bullshit.
According to sites like Whatsappen and WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is beta testing a new feature that informs someone when a message they’ve received has been forwarded multiple times.
The alert doesn’t specifically say the message is spam, so it won’t really help in most cases of fake news being passed around. You’re going to have to use your own head there. On the other hand, it certainly helps with scams like “WhatsApp is going to cost money from so and so date”. In that case, when you receive the message, a notification saying “Forwarded Many Times” will appear under the sender’s name. Similarly, if you try to forward the message yourself, it’ll warn you that you’re propagating a potentially spammy message. “A message you are forwarding has been forwarded many times,” it’ll say.
It’s still unclear in which locations WhatsApp is testing this, or if they will even implement it in the future. However, it should be a boon for users likely to be scammed by the hundreds of con artists active on WhatsApp. Chain messages are a frequent source of this kind of trouble, either getting users to pay for fictional WhatsApp charges or simply infecting their devices with malware from a document download and stealing their information.
Even fake news can be highly damaging when it goes viral, and we already know how much Facebook is trying to get rid of it from its focus platform. Hopefully, this anti-chain letter warning could at least help gullible users see the truth before they hit send.