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WhatsApp Limits Message Forwarding To Curb Coronavirus Misinformation

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To stem the spread of coronavirus misinformation, WhatsApp is now placing new limits on the number of times users can share frequently forwarded messages.


Whatsapp broadcast messages that have been forwarded five times can now only be forwarded one chat at a time. These measures make up WhatsApp strictest ever limits.


The Facebook-owned app had gradually been tightening its restrictions on the forwarding function of its app. Previously, a user could easily choose multiple groups or people to receive messages forwarded to them. A user could also pass on a forwarded message to 250 groups at a time as recently as two years ago.


However, by last year, users could forward frequently forwarded messages to just five groups at a time. The measures were announced in a blog post on 7th March 2020.


Photo: Getty Images
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It reads in part:


“We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers.”


The company further explained its reason for taking this action:


“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.”


In 2018, WhatsApp started labeling forwarded messages and limiting the number of people that its users can forward messages to. The company says it reduced this amount by about 25 percent at the time.


WhatsApp is now testing reverse image search and text search to control the spread of fake news.


The company is also working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and 20 governments all over the world to provide accurate information about COVID-19.


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