Fear is a strong emotion. It makes a man do crazy things. Given the uncertain times, where any sort of information regarding COVID-19 is blindly followed by people looking to save themselves from the virus, it becomes absolutely necessary to fact-check the information. WhatsApp has often been a major source of such fiasco, although it has recently been putting in measures to curb the spread of misinformation.
Continuing the drive, WhatsApp has now introduced a further limit on the number of times a message can be forwarded at a given time. Users will now not be able to forward a message more than once if it has been forwarded five or more times prior to that. The update will be rolled out globally in the coming days.
The latest update caps the forward limit to one chat at a time. It is additional over the limit of 5 users at a time, that the platform had introduced last year. WhatsApp had also introduced a “double arrow” sign for messages that have been shared multiple times. The company is hoping that these new measures will reduce the message traffic by at least 25%.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Whatsapp wrote, “As a private messaging service, we’ve taken several steps over the years to help keep conversations intimate. For example, we previously set limits on forwarded messages to constrain virality, which led to a 25% decrease in message forwards globally at the time.”
While Whatsapp did acknowledge that all forwarding is “certainly not” bad, there are miscreants using forward facility more than people who are putting it to good use. Hence, a limitation on forwarding will help curb the spread of misinformation.
“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,” it added.
WhatsApp also informed it was working with several competent authorities to facilitate dissemination of vetted information on the platform.
“In addition to this change, we are working directly with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information. Together these trusted authorities have sent hundreds of millions of messages directly to people requesting information and advice.”
WhatsApp is also reportedly testing a new feature to help users run fact-check of information shared in a forwarded message. The feature will reportedly introduce a search icon beside a message that users can click on, to check the credibility of the information on Google. Besides the users will also see previously flagged false information on the top of the page.