Too Much Of Anything Is Good For Nothing

Information on home remedies and natural medicines for COVID-19 cure has been spreading faster than the virus itself. Every day, we get 5 to 10 forward messages asking us to grind certain spices or leaves and apply them to get rid of a headache, eat some fruits/vegetables/leaves in a particular way to increase our immunity power, etc. Some of this information can be true, but others may be going viral with false/diligently fake information. Not everyone has the same medical history. These remedies may work for someone, but they can cause serious problems to others. It depends on their body types, environment, available resources, and medical history. Also, messages abusing government/healthcare centers are being forwarded multiple times to various groups. CNN and other news organizations identified that people have been using this platform to share misinformation and reported the same. The government ordered social media platforms like WhatsApp, TikTok, etc. instill more control measures to reduce the overspread of misinformation. 

MEASURES TAKEN BY WHATSAPP:

Whatsapp has been continually taking various measures from March 2020 to control the spread of misleading information by releasing several updates. 

  • It has added limits on the number of chats one can forward a particular message (currently five chats). This update has significantly reduced the number of forwards. TechCrunch reports say that the spread of highly forwarded messages has dropped by 70% as a result of laying restrictions on the number of forwards one can make at a time. 
  • It also started to label the messages whether it is forwarded a single time or multiple times. With this, the receivers can identify the creator of the context forwarded to them. 

Laying restrictions on the number of forwards has limited the spread of misinformation to a certain extent only. Users still have an option to forward the same message in any number of batches manually. This means that the update launched by WhatsApp can only restrict to some extent but cannot completely stop the spread of misinformation. There is always something negative in every positive initiative. Though the restrictions reduced the number of forwards, helpful information and educational memes have lost their reach. 

To fight the overspread of unwanted gossips, Whatsapp has been testing a feature back in March 2020 in the beta version of its Android App. This new feature allows the user to quickly verify the forwarded information (either a text or video) on google. The new feature comes with a magnifying glass button on the right side of the forwarded message. If the receiver likes to read or know more about that content, click on the magnifying glass. A dialogue box appears asking whether they wish to search that on the web. If they opt to Search Web, the message gets uploaded on Google with the search results appearing. People can find news results, videos, and other sources of information relating to that particular context. This allows the users to double-check the information they are reading, helps to read the right information, and contributes to society by spreading better information. Thus, when people read more authentic sources of information, the spread of misinformation might automatically reduce, so the issue gets resolved. This noble “Search the web” option has been rolled out in countries like Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the UK, and the US on August 3rd,2020. It will soon be available to other countries so people can read more credible information. 

Whatever the organization initiates to make the public aware, it is in the hands of people to verify it twice before sharing it. It is your loved ones, friends, relatives, and families who are reading the information you forward, and they might take it on a serious note and apply it to their real life. If you do not authenticate the information, that piece of incorrect data can lead to a disaster. So, please never forward a message or video unless you have a thorough knowledge of it. Let’s together fight against fake news going viral and make needed information go viral.