With the current global pandemic affecting countries all over the world, misinformation is on the rise on the internet. While it’s quite easier to track down the origin of those posts on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, it’s hard to do the same on end-to-end encrypted platforms such as WhatsApp.
In order to limit the damage caused by the misinformation, WhatsApp is introducing a new limit on forwarding messages: You can now only do that to one chat at a time. That limit comes in once the message has been forwarded more than five times in total.
Just to explain this a bit further, WhatsApp can’t read the content of your messages, but through the metadata, it can count the number of times a particular message has been forwarded.
In a blog post, WhatsApp said that it saw the number of forwards shooting up in the last couple of days, and that can lead to the spread of misinformation:
“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 conversations.”
In 2018, WhatsApp began labeling forward messages and introducing a limit on the number of people you can send a particular message to in one go. In India, the limit was five people at a time at the launch, which was rolled out worldwide later. The company said this limit will be brought down forwards by 25% at that time.
WhatsApp has more than 2 billion users and is also testing a reverse image search and text search to curb fake news on its platform.