WhatsApp expands message forwarding limit globally to curb the menace of fake news and misinformation

Facebook-owned WhatsApp received a lot of flak from the Indian government last year for its ineffectiveness and inability to tackle the issues of fake news and misinformation spread through its platform which gave rise to incidents of mob lynching in India that caused deaths of innocent people in the country. To curb the menace of fake news and misinformation in India, WhatsApp rolled out a couple of features in India, one of which was restricting users from forwarding messages to a maximum of five chats at once. Well, this message forwarding limit has now been imposed globally.

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WhatsApp users were initially allowed to forward messages to a maximum of 20 chats at once. However, WhatsApp imposed message forwarding limit on its users in India last year in July and restricted them to forwarding messages to a maximum of five chats at once. Well, this strategy seems to have worked for WhatsApp as the company has now imposed this limit on its global users as well.

WhatsApp carefully evaluated this test and listened to user feedback over a six-month period. The forward limit significantly reduced forwarded messages around the world. Starting today, all users on the latest versions of WhatsApp can now forward to only five chats at once, which will help keep WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts. We’ll continue to listen to user feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content,” said WhatsApp in a press note.

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WhatsApp’s full-page advertisement in Indian newspapers

In addition to imposing message forwarding restrictions in India, WhatsApp also took some other measures to tackle the issues of fake news and misinformation in the country. WhatsApp started labeling forwarded messages as “Forwarded” so that users know that a message they have received from a person originally came from someone else. The company also introduced a feature called “Suspicious Link Detector” to let users know whether a link that’s been shared with them is trustworthy or not.

WhatsApp also published full-page advertisements (check image above) in Indian newspapers to educate users on spotting false information on its platform.

With 2019 being a year of elections in India, WhatsApp has a herculean task ahead of dealing with the spread of fake news and misinformation in the country. It now remains to be seen what other measures does WhatsApp take to tackle these issues not just in India, but in other parts of the world as well.