WhatsApp Attempts to Control Spread of Hoax by Limiting Message Forwards

July 20, 2018, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Given the nature of instant messaging platforms, it’s hard not to come across a forwarded message, especially when you are using a rather popular one like WhatsApp. Seldom does people get to know about the veracity of a news that’s shared on WhatsApp. The Facebook-owned company is now attempting to put an end to it.

As a first step to it, WhatsApp has now decided to limit the ability of users to forward a message to multiple chats at once. Until now, users could forward messages to over 250 people at a time. But now, WhatsApp has reduced the limit straight to 20.

Quite apparently, the move does have a relation with the recent spread of hoaxes and misinformation that have incited recent lynchings in India. It might be for this particular reason that WhatsApp has further reduced the ability to forward messages to five contacts at once. Furthermore, WhatsApp is also discouraging the quick sharing of media messages by taking down the ‘quick forward’ button attached to media messages.

The move does make sense, as instant means of sharing news have become the reason why messages spread like wildfire within the chat platform. With that being cut down, users will have to take an extra effort to get the message spread to the rest, and that should pretty well depend on how users value the news, and of course the veracity of it.

WhatsApp has said that the changes are only part of testing. But a company spokesperson has recently admitted that a number of different product changes were being introduced to address the issue of hoax message spreading. In addition to limitations, WhatsApp will also be soon implementing forward message label to help users identify them.

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