WhatsApp said on Tuesday that it would place new limits on the forwarding of messages to heighten security to spread misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic. Messages that have been sent through a chain of five or more people, can only be sent to a single chat at a time.
“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,” reads a blog post published by WhatsApp. “We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversations.”
WhatsApp had already set limits on forwarded messages in 2018
As a result, there was a 25 percent decrease in total message forwards around the world. The company said at the time that these proved limits do moderate the flow of information on WhatsApp.
Because of the encryption WhatsApp uses, the company cannot see the contents of messages sent on its platform. Alternatively, the company has introduced friction into messaging more generally, as well as provide users with information that could help them know whether a message is trustworthy.
“With billions of people unable to see their friends and family in person due to COVID-19, people are relying on WhatsApp more than ever to communicate,” continued the post. “People are talking to doctors, teachers and isolated loved ones via WhatsApp during this crisis.”
The company claims that not all forwarding is bad. “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.”
Measures Taken by WhatsApp
WhatsApp has promoted a bot made by the World Health Organization, that provides information about the disease. WhatsApp also donated $1 million to the International Fact-Checking Network.
More on news relating to the COVID19 outbreak.
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