Facebook Messenger is currently testing a feature for Messenger that would reveal the geographic origin of messages that don’t come from your contacts or Facebook friends, as well as whether or not the account sending you the message was created recently, among other information. Users would see if a message sender is using Messenger without a Facebook account, the country of origin for the phone number linked to Messenger if applicable and whether the account for Messenger was recently created. In the case of messages from senders who seem to be impersonating a known Facebook friend, the app will also inform users that the account in question is different from their friend’s account.
The feature is still being tested internally within Facebook, but seems to have begun to roll out to a very limited subset of users. The below screenshot, for example, was forwarded to Motherboard by artist Erin Gallagher, who does not appear to be on Facebook’s payroll. The scope and scale of testing was not revealed, nor was any information on when the feature will roll out to a wider audience. Also worth consideration is whether this change will roll out to the resource-conserving Messenger Lite app, which is commonly used on lower-end devices. Since it would not be a big hit on device resources to query the relevant information and it could even be done on the server side, introduction on Messenger Lite seems likely, but it was not specifically mentioned and is thus not a guarantee at this point in time.
This is yet another part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts to fight scams and misinformation on the platform. The service ended up being used by Russian influences and other outside parties to spread misinformation such as fake news during the 2016 United States presidential election, which arguably affected its outcome and brought Facebook into public scrutiny. Since then, Facebook has been working to fight malicious outside influences and other issues. Russia has been a particular focus of Facebook’s efforts in the wake of revelations that the service published ads bought by Russian sources that were politically divisive or misleading in nature.
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