The owners of WhatsApp on Tuesday placed new limits on message forwarding as part of the company’s effort to curb the spread of misinformation about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The new policy, we gather, limits users of the WhatApp platform to forwarding certain messages to only one “chat” at a time. The aim is to limit the rapid propagation of content that are shared by users, which is provocative but likely to be false. The Facebook-owned messaging platform said it took the action to enable people to concentrate on personal and private communications during the health crisis.
In recent weeks, “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,” WhatsApp said in a blog post. “We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”
Last year, WhatsApp set limits on forwarded messages to five chats at a time, “to constrain virality,” responding to events in India where the rapid proliferation of unverified information led to mob violence. The new policy applies to messages forwarded “many times” and marked with a double arrow, indicating that it did not originate from a close contact, according to WhatsApp.
“In effect, these messages are less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp,” the blog said. “We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time.” WhatsApp along with its parent Facebook have been scrambling to curb an explosion of rumors and hoaxes about COVID-19 and at the same time seeking to promote verified content.