COVID-19: WhatsApp limits message forwarding to slow spread of fake news

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WhatsApp, a US-run messaging service, says it would be limiting the messaging forwarding feature on its platform to slow the spread of fake news on COVID-19.

The social media app, which has more than two billion users worldwide, disclosed the new development in a blog post on Tuesday.

WhatsApp said it has recorded an increase in the amount of message forwarding since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

It added that messages would now be forwarded to one chat at a time once the content in question has been forwarded more than five times in total.

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“We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful,” said a spokesperson of the instant messaging platform.

“In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize 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.

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“We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for a personal conversation.”

Due to the end-to-end encryption, it is believed that WhatsApp can’t read the messages being shared on its platform, although it counts the number of times a particular content has been forwarded.

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The Facebook-owned services had started labeling forward messages back in 2018 while introducing a limit on the number of people users can send such messages to in one go.

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