How to fact-check forwarded WhatsApp messages for misinformation

How to fact-check WhatsApp messages - hero image

If anything, the US elections and the coronavirus crisis have reminded us yet again how rapidly misinformation can spread through social media and messaging platforms. To help with that, you now have the ability to fact-check forwarded WhatsApp messages, and we show you how.

How WhatsApp’s fact-checking works

WhatsApp provides a special label to messages (two arrows) that have been forwarded many times. The label tells you a message wasn’t originally written by one of your close contacts. As of August 3, 2020, users also have the ability to fact-check WhatsApp messages to help curb fake news and spread of misinformation on the platform.

TUTORIAL: How to check if a phone number is using WhatsApp

The feature uploads the message to Google without WhatsApp ever seeing the message itself (thanks to end-to-end encryption). It currently works in Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, UK and US, and requires the latest version of the mobile WhatsApp app or WhatsApp Web.

Follow along with us as we show you how to fact-check WhatsApp messages.

How to fact-check WhatsApp messages

Follow these steps to verify that a message has been written by a person you know and trust:

  1. Open WhatsApp for iPhone or the web interface at
  2. Tap a desired chat in the message list.
  3. Hit a magnifying glass button in the chat.
  4. Confirm that you wish to fact-check the message by tapping Search Web.

Doing so will open a Google search page for that message so you can verify it against common hoaxes that often pop up in Google search results.

How to fact-check WhatsApp messages - example screenshot

In the example screenshots provided above, WhatsApp is fact-checking a forwarded message that claims drinking water infused with fresh garlic cures the coronavirus. The reason WhatsApp is unable to flag such messages in advance is end-to-end encryption that prevents the company from seeing the actual contents of your messages.

Permitting people to search messages that have been forwarded many times may help WhatsApp customers “find news results or other sources of information about content they have received,” according to the Facebook-owned company.

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