Curbing fake news: WhatsApp sets limit to forwarded messages

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Published: April 8, 2020 5:30 AM

The Facebook-owned company explained that its previous exercise of limiting a forwarded message to five chats led to a 25% reduction in message forwards globally at the time.

In effect, these messages are less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp has set a limit on the number of times a user can pass on a forwarded message on the instant messaging platform. Under this new restriction, being rolled out from Tuesday, frequently forwarded messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time. This limit comes into effect once a message has been previously forwarded five times or more.

It is aimed at curbing the flow of misinformation as the world grapples to check the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). “Last year we introduced users to the concept of messages that have been forwarded many times. These messages are labeled with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from a close contact. In effect, these messages are less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp. We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time,” WhatsApp said.

The Facebook-owned company explained that its previous exercise of limiting a forwarded message to five chats led to a 25% reduction in message forwards globally at the time. “We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organise public moments of support for frontline health workers.

However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation,” it added. The company said that to check the spread of misinformation, it bans 2 million accounts per month for attempting to send bulk or automated messages

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