Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a surge in the number of fake emails and texts. These include scams, as well as misinformation about the virus.
However, according to WhatsApp, measures to prevent the spread of fake news have been highly effective
The platform says there has been a drop of around 70% in “highly forwarded messages” – these are the types of messages that spread quickly and contain, often misleading, health information.
How has WhatsApp dealt with fake messages?
Around two weeks ago, following concerns raised by the WHO, WhatsApp stopped users from being able to forward messages more than five times.
It also stopped messages being posted in more than one group chat at a time.
This has dramatically brought down the number of messages being sent as, often, users will spread messages to family and friends “just in case” – even if they don’t seem true.
What else needs to be done?
We now appear to be past the peak of the WhatsApp misinformation campaigns. But, it’s up to WhatsApp to remain vigilant.
Messages on this platform are much harder to monitor than they would be on Facebook or other social media sites. Experts say there’s more to be done.
A spokesman for the messaging platform said “WhatsApp is committed to doing our part in tackling viral messages. This change is helping keep WhatsApp a place for personal and private conversations.”
The Center for Countering Digital Hate chief executive added: “More needs to be done by social media giants such as WhatsApp. There is still a vast amount of misinformation on the platform.”
“The 70% figure seems to mask a lot of complexity on a topic where the nuance is critically important. In a time when people cannot meet face-to-face, the misinformation crisis is being entirely driven by social-media spread.”