WhatsApp tightens restrictions on forwarded messages, limiting it to only one chat at a time
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is the world’s most popular messaging app, with over two billion users around the world. And while the app has played a major role in connecting people globally, it has also proven to be a hotbed for fake news. In a bid to curb the spread of fake news on the platform, WhatsApp first introduced a new forwarded message label on the app all the way back in July, 2018. The idea behind the Forwarded label was to help users easily identify forwarded messages and exercise good judgment before sharing the message with others. Soon thereafter, the platform also imposed a limit on forwarded messages, restricting users from sharing a message to more than 20 other chats.
A year down the line, WhatsApp improved upon the Forwarded message label and added a new feature called ‘Forwarding info’ that let the original senders see how many times their message had been received and read. When none of the aforementioned features seemed to have worked out, the company introduced a new feature for group administrators to disallow sending frequently forwarded messages in groups. However, despite all these measures, the rampant spread of fake news on WhatsApp doesn’t seem to have stopped to date. Now, in order to further tighten restrictions, the platform is imposing yet another limit on forwarded messages.
As per a recent blog post from the company, the new limit applies to frequently forwarded messages that are marked by a double arrow icon and prevents users from sharing these messages to more than one chat at a time. The company claims that its previous limits on forwarded messages led to a 25% decline in message forwards globally and the new limit will help the platform curb the spread of misinformation even further. With this new feature, WhatsApp also aims to make the platform a place for personal conversation, instead of it being a platform where people just share forwarded messages that don’t originate from a close contact. Sadly though, WhatsApp hasn’t revealed any threshold for when a forwarded message becomes a “frequently forwarded” message. Therefore, we can’t comment on how effective this measure will be in preventing the spread of fake news in the long run.
In addition to this change, WhatsApp is also working with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to curb the spread of misinformation regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and also help connect people with accurate information. The platform has helped these authorities send hundreds of millions of messages directly to people requesting information and advice about the pandemic.
Source: WhatsApp Blog
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