WhatsApp has Announced a new restriction on message forwarding, in an attempt to cut down on the spread of misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic flowing through the app. People are relying on WhatsApp more than ever to communicate.
highly forwarded messages restriction is being implemented across the world starting today.
WhatsApp on Tuesday announced it would place new limits on the forwarding of messages. Starting today, messages that have been identified as “highly forwarded”. Sent through a chain of five or more people can only be forwarded to a single person. The move is designed to reduce the speed with which information moves through WhatsApp, putting truth and fiction on a more even footing. WhatsApp also limited message forwarding to only five other users at a time in January last year.
There was a time when users were free to forward WhatsApp messages to 256 people if they wanted, but more recently, the app has increasingly become a weapon of choice for misinformation campaigns – which have been particularly damaging, at times, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As explained by WhatsApp:
“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.”
” “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 organize public moments of support for frontline health workers,” the company, which is part of Facebook, said in a blog post. “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.”
“As a private messaging service, we’ve taken several steps over the years to help keep conversations intimate. For example, we previously set limits on forwarded messages to constrain virality. At the time, we saw a 25% decrease in total message forwards globally.“
But amid a huge surge in use related to the pandemic, WhatsApp has come under the spotlight for the way it can be used to spread misinformation. Last month, CNN and other news organizations found that the app had been used to share a variety of false information about “cures” for COVID-19 and hoaxes about military activity related to the disease. The prime minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, urged people to “please stop sharing unverified info on Whatsapp groups.
WhatsApp Says Viral Message Forwarding Has Reduced 70% Since Implementation of New Restrictions
On 27 April (updated) As explained by WhatsApp (via Business Standard):
“WhatsApp is committed to doing our part in tackling viral messages. Since putting into place the new limit, globally, there has been a 70% reduction in the number of highly forwarded messages sent on WhatsApp. This change is helping keep WhatsApp a place for personal and private conversations.”
Source: WhatsApp blog