WhatsApp is rolling out a web search feature for forwarded links

WhatsApp is piloting a new feature to combat misinformation. We are all familiar with the forwarded label that is above any message, media or link that is transferred from one user to another (more than 5 times). Well, this feature ties into that.

Links are one of the many ways that we get news and information on WhatsApp. These often spread rapidly. In these strange times we are living in we need accurate information. Sometimes the information we receive isn’t correct or can be misleading. In light of that WhatsApp is rolling out a feature that allows users to cross-reference links on the web.

By tapping on the magnifying glass next to a forwarded link, a pop up will give users the option to search that link online. This link will then be uploaded to a web browser and relevant information will be displayed.


The immediate worry is that it uploading the message to be searched on the internet may present a security and privacy risks. To that end WhatsApp said:

“This feature works by allowing users to upload the message via their browser without WhatsApp ever seeing the message itself.”

This feature is currently available in Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, The United Kingdom and the United States.

In this coronavirus pandemic there are a number of questionable opinions that have been floating around. This feature is a welcome addition because it at least allows users to have the option to verify a link they receive. Hopefully this becomes widely available soon, because it will definitely come in handy in Zimbabwe.

It should also be said that this isn’t going to be perfect. Users will still have to sift through a number of sources for matters of opinion and debate. But for matters that concern the coronavirus (when searched), the majority of the resources are usually from credible sources like the Ministry of Health or health governing bodies.

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