Following measures announced by streaming companies last week, Whatsapp is now testing limiting the length of videos in ‘status update’ to 15 seconds. A tweet by WABetaInfo has revealed the same in a new Whatsapp Beta version that has been pushed to testers recently. According to WABetaInfo and reports from several other beta testers, this seems to be only applicable to India at the moment.
In this new beta, WhatsApp has put a bar on time limit for videos posted under the ‘Status’ section. While there is no official announcement or clarification on this, the Facebook-owned messaging platform could have done this to reduce increased pressure on internet infrastructure, caused by the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. People are working from home more than ever before in history, causing massive strain on India’s already stretched telecom infrastructure. India is Whatsapp’s biggest market in terms of number of users. The messaging app had over 400 million users in India by last July, which is expected to be around 450 million at this point.
Beta testers in India are now seeing their videos being cropped to 15 seconds, if they are more than that duration, before they can be posted as status updates. The usual limit on the length of videos in the section was 30 seconds. At the time of launch, WhatsApp allowed its users to post status updates whose length varied between 9- seconds to 3 minutes, only asking users to crop if the size of the video exceeded 16 MB.
We have reached out to Whatsapp for a comment on this and will update the story as and when we receive one.
This isn’t the first time Whatsapp has come out with a coronavirus outbreak specific feature. Earlier, world’s largest messaging platform was found testing a ‘Search the web’ feature. This basically allows users to search any forwarded message they receive on their chats, directly on Google, without having to copy it and paste it on a browser. The feature, though not live yet, is aimed at combating the spread of misinformation, that has risen even more during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Facebook owned company has taken several other steps in light of the COVID 19 pandemic, including the announcement of the “Whatsapp Coronavirus Information Hub” in partnership with WHO, UNICEF, and UNDP — to offer simple, actionable guidance, general tips and resources for users around the world to be better informed about the disease and hence reduce the spread of rumors. The platform also promised to offer $1 million to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), to fight the spread of rumours and promote legitimate news checking.
Later, its parent company, Facebook, announced similar measures for its other messaging app, Messenger, and launched a coronavirus community hub for the platform.