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WhatsApp tests in-app reverse image searches to prevent the spread of hoaxes

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Fact-check an image yourself

The WhatsApp team at Facebook is continuing to build features to help thwart fake news. WABetaInfo reports that a new beta version of WhatsApp includes an in-app web browser and the ability to reverse image search an image that’s sent in a chat so that you can try to figure out where the image really came from.

The in-app browser on its own likely won’t do much to combat fake news, although it’s at least a helpful feature that’s been missing for some time. WaBetaInfo notes that WhatsApp doesn’t allow people to screenshot or video record while using the in-app browser.

The more useful feature, especially in cases where viral photos spread through chain texts on the platform, is the ability to reverse Google image search. Users can select an image, upload it to Google, and then see where else that photo shows up. Though to fight fake news, users have to actually take the initiative to look an image up.

WhatsApp already labels forwarded messages and instituted forwarding limits after viral rumors of child abductions and child traffickers in India were linked to nearly a dozen deaths. In Brazil, some reporters speculated that misinformation about the yellow fever vaccine on the app caused the disease to resurge in unprecedented numbers.

WhatsApp has taken other steps to address fake news, including offering cash rewards for researchers studying the spread of misinformation through the app and seeking the help of local law enforcement and fact-checking organizations to fight hoaxes.