One of the biggest problems that I face weekly on WhatsApp is older and less tech-savvy people forwarding hoaxes. This not only clutters my inbox, but it also puts me in unnecessary group chats at times. I am almost certain that you have been there too. Thankfully, a solution is coming. Facebook, who now owns WhatsApp, appears to have injected some of its advanced spam filters into WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is working on enhancements to the app’s spam detection filters to keep users from forwarding hoax messages. A company spokesperson states that they feel that the spam situation is being kept “under control”. They also mentioned that they were watching spam closely. The new filters are reportedly being tested on a small subset of users.
Several WhatsApp watch groups and news sites have had users show off the new features via screenshots. It looks like, instead of directly calling it “fake news” or more plainly, a “hoax,” the app will instead warn you if the message was forwarded more than seems likely. A little message reading, “Forwarded Many Times” will pop up below the sender’s name, and a message will pop up when you attempt to forward it anyway. The pop-up message reads, “A message you are forwarding has been forwarded many times”; while this is by no means a direct way of telling some people that it is, in fact, spam, this might make many think twice before sending.
Chain messages proclaiming that accounts will close if they are not forwarded are the biggest perpetrators of the app. Other chain messages, such as those proclaiming love and wealth, or even fear-mongering messages, are also all over the messaging app. This is just another move from Facebook to curtail fake news and get rid of spam altogether. While it will by no means eradicate hoax messages, it will help in identifying and teaching others to spot them.