- According to research by the University of Warwick, 40% of fake information cannot be spotted by average educated adults.
- Real news and information are gradually getting buried in an avalanche of false news and videos.
- A large number of fake WhatsApp forwards are spreading like wildfire. Are you also sharing fake WhatsApp messages without knowing it?
8 Simple Tips To Check If A WhatsApp Forward Is Real Or Fake
First, forwarded messages are not all bad. Some are genuinely good, others less so. A considerable number of WhatsApp forwards are full of rumors and misleading information!
With billions of people now using WhatsApp, false messages and videos can instantly go viral, creating mass hysteria and stirring up tensions.
Clearly, the need of the hour is to spot the fake messages and flag them.
Here are few tips to check the authenticity of messages forwarded in WhatsApp.
1. Look for the ‘Forwarded’ label.
- Whenever you receive a message from someone, check for the ‘Forwarded’ label at the top.
- If the label is present, it means the message was not composed by the sender himself but by someone else.
- The ‘Forwarded’ label should serve as an important indicator for you to think twice before forwarding such messages. 78% of WhatsApp Forwards are known to contain rumors and false information.
- This feature is only available in a few countries for now and is likely to be introduced in other countries.
2. Google it out.
- We’re privileged to be born in the age of Google. It merely takes a few seconds to Google anything.
- Just copy and paste the contents of the WhatsApp message in the Google search bar, and the truth will be out.
- Every time we passively accept some information without double-checking or share a post, image, or video before we’ve verified it, we’re adding to the noise and confusion.
- No matter even if the information was shared by a close friend or colleague, always Google it.
3. Overlook the messages that fuel emotions.
- If you read a message that makes you angry or afraid, ask whether it was shared to make you feel that way. And if the answer is ‘yes,’ they are not worth considering.
- The majority of such messages circulated on WhatsApp are false.
- False messages are purposely circulated to play on our fears and anxieties, knowing that doing so will make us follow our emotions and not the brain.
4. Is the image photoshopped?
- Since a photo can say 1000 fake words as well, false graphic images are widely circulated on WhatsApp.
- Images can be verified for authenticity by doing a reverse image search on Google. Just drag & drop or upload the photo in the Google image search bar, and it will bring up all the sources of that image.
- Lighting and shadows play a pivotal role in any image. Irregularities or discrepancies in them are easy clues to identify photoshopped images.
- Sometimes the photo is real, but the story around it is not. Common sense and logical thinking can help bust such messages.
- Also Read: Fake Photo Or Real? How To Check If An Image Is Morphed Or Edited
5. Is that video real?
- When you see any unusual WhatsApp video, just ask yourself: ‘Can this be real?’.
- Go through the video frame by frame, checking for inconsistencies. A fake video will always have loose ends.
- Google about the video and see what comes up. Also, check for any news coverage related to it.
- In many instances, the video might be real, but the accompanying text is not. An old video can be circulated with a new story.
- Fake or hoax videos also rely on poor quality footage to hide imperfections.
6. URL/website links can be deceptive.
- Never fall for the URL/links shared on WhatsApp messages.
- Even though the links appear to be from well-known websites, they actually may not be. Fraudsters purposefully use similar website names to confuse and trick readers.
- Most of these links are fake and take you to websites that steal your personal information or advertise certain unwanted products.
- When in doubt, leave it out. If you feel the link looks suspicious, or you’re just not sure if it’s legitimate, don’t take the risk of clicking it.
7. Make use of fact-checking and hoax-busting websites.
- Have you visited a fact-checking or hoax-busting website?
- There are many good ones like Snopes.com, FactCheck.org, Hoax-Slayer.net, PolitiFact.com, etc.
- You can also find many hoax-busting or fact-checking websites specific to your country or region. Just Google for them, and you will find a few.
- Do your own detective work and feel more confident in being able to identify fact vs. fiction.
8. This is the most important one: use common sense.
- Pizza Hut giving away free pizzas? Apple giving away free iPhones? Aliens eating sushi in China?
- WhatsApp is asking you for money? WhatsApp is offering you money?
- They are obvious fakes. Just apply common sense.
If It’s Fake, Flag It!
If you find that a WhatsApp forward sent to you is fake, flag it.
It may be annoying and awkward to tell the sender that the forward he/she sent was fake but just do it. This will make them think before sending a fake forward again!
Never forward a WhatsApp message unless you’re certain it’s true.
We all need to pitch in. What say?