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WhatsApp to limit message forwarding to stop the spread of fake news

WhatsApp to limit message forwarding to stop the spread of fake news
[Photo: Anton/Pexels]

The Facebook-owned company has announced in a blog post that it is limiting the ability of users to forward messages to large groups of people. Globally, users will now only be able to forward messages to groups with 20 or fewer people in them. But in India, WhatsApp users will only be able to forward messages to groups with five or fewer people in them. The previous limit was groups of 250 people. WhatsApp is also getting rid of the “quick forward” feature in India, which allowed users to quickly pass along photos and videos to others.

The move is being made to stop the spread of fake news on the platform–particularily in India where rumors and lies spread on the platform have led to the deaths of users by angry mobs. From WhatsApp’s blog post:

We built WhatsApp as a private messaging app–a simple, secure, and reliable way to communicate with friends and family. And as we’ve added new features, we’ve been careful to try and keep that feeling of intimacy, which people say they love.

A few years back we added a feature to WhatsApp that lets you forward a message to multiple chats at once.

Today, we’re launching a test to limit forwarding that will apply to everyone using WhatsApp. In India–where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world–we’ll also test a lower limit of 5 chats at once and we’ll remove the quick forward button next to media messages.

We believe that these changes–which we’ll continue to evaluate–will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app.

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