WhatsApp is one of the most used platforms and nearly everyone in the world is using it, as a replacement for SMS services, which have a limited number of messages per day. This instant messaging platform has resulted to be a great tool for binding people personally and professionally, but like other social media platforms, this instant messaging app also faces several threats which could be really dangerous and disturbing too. The end-to-end encrypted messaging platform could be misused and there are times when the user has to take preventive measures to keep their data safe and secured, by promoting online security.
Although there is no single action which could help in preventing the spread of misinformation and fake news online, WhatsApp has reportedly made some significant product investments which will empower users to stay safe while communicating with their friends and family.
Group privacy settings
WhatsApp’s privacy settings and group invite system helps the users to decide who could be added to the groups accordingly. This ensures user privacy and prevents people from being added to unwanted groups. To enable it, follow the steps below:
- Go to Settings
- Click on Account
- Now click on Privacy
- Groups and select one of the three options, as per your preference:
- “My Contacts”
- “My Contacts Except”
Forward limits for viral messages
WhatsApp has witnessed how people have been pushing the message forward to almost every possible contact they have. So the platform has set limits on forwarding messages which restrict messages with a "forwarded label" to just five chats at once and “highly-forwarded messages” to just one chat at a time. WhatsApp is one of the few messaging services to intentionally constrain sharing. WhatsApp has also introduced new group forwarding limits where messages that have the "forwarded label" can now only be forwarded to one group at a time.
WhatsApp provides a simple way for users to block accounts and make reports to WhatsApp if they encounter inappropriate messages from a specific account. When a user blocks someone, their ‘Last Seen’, online status, status updates, and any changes made to their profile photo will no longer be visible to contacts they've blocked.
Here are the steps to block users:
- Tap on Settings
- Tap on Account
- Tap on Privacy
- Blocked contacts and select the contact to add to the list
WhatsApp has advanced spam detection technology that works round the clock to spot and take action on accounts engaging in automated and bulk messaging. However, just like regular SMS or phone calls, it is possible for other WhatsApp users who have a user’s phone number to contact them with unwanted messages. WhatsApp encourages users to block the sender and report problematic content and accounts to WhatsApp. Additionally, the company also provides the option for people to keep reported messages on their phones if they want to share them with fact-checkers or law enforcement officials.
Fact-check news on WhatsApp
The Poynter Institute’s IFCN WhatsApp chatbot aims to tackle misinformation and fake news by connecting users to independent fact-checkers in more than 70 countries. Users are encouraged to double-check the information that sounds suspicious or inaccurate by simply saving +1 (727) 2912606 as a contact number and texting, “Hi” to get a message or information validated. Alternatively, users can click http://poy.nu/ifcnbot to access a global directory of fact-checking organizations.