WhatsApp to limit message forwards to fight spread of misinformation

WhatsApp to limit message forwards to fight spread of misinformation

PanARMENIAN.Net - WhatsApp is imposing additional restriction on how frequently a message can be shared on its platform in its latest effort to curtail the spread of misinformation, TechCrucnh reports.

The Facebook-owned instant messaging service said that any message that has been forwarded five or more times will now face a new limit that will prevent a user from forwarding it to more than one chat (contact) at a time.

A spokesperson said WhatsApp will roll out this change to users worldwide on Tuesday, April 6.

The move builds on WhatsApp’s effort from 2019 when it limited users from forwarding a message to more than five users at once. The service, used by more than 2 billion users, said the move allowed it to reduce the volume of message forwards globally by 25%.

The end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp — which the company is fighting for in several markets — prevents it from reading the content of a message, so it relies on metadata of a message to gauge its spread.

“Is all forwarding bad? Certainly not,” the company wrote in a blogpost today. “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.”

More than a dozen deaths in recent years — several in WhatsApp’s biggest market, India — have been linked to viral circulation of misinformation on Facebook’s service.

Facebook has moved to take several efforts in recent weeks as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, it announced free developer tools for Messenger to combat COVID-19, and introduced an info centre atop of the news feed to prominently showcase reliable information.

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