WhatsApp introduced new forwarding limits at the beginning of April to try and curb the viral spreading of fake news surrounding the recent pandemic.
By the looks of the new numbers it seems to have paid off and WhatsApp spamming has dropped by a reported 70% already.
The changes mean that any message that’s already been forwarded by five or more people can now only be forwarded to a single person or group.
This means that the new limit WhatsApp has imposed is now successfully slowing down the spread of viral messages and fake news. Although you can still manually forward a message to groups or multiple individuals, it is impossible to tell though which are just harmless memes and which are in fact dangerous fake news articles pertaining to the virus.
WhatsApp has been publicly criticised and scrutinised for their role in spreading the supposed fake news as a WhatsApp group can now hold up to as many as 256 members. Each member spreading their own fake news means the effect easily snowballs.
Among these scrutinisers were large news organisations including CNN and others.
WhatsApp was accused of not doing enough to stop the spread of viral misinformation, fake cures and supposed new vaccinations that are being developed.
When WhatsApp finally announced the new measures they were putting in place they were quoted as saying, “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.” They had then also said, “We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”
WhatsApp also added in a statement to TechCrunch about another limit they had recently made public. “We recently introduced a limit to sharing ‘highly forwarded messages’ to just one chat. Since putting into place this new limit, globally there has been a 70% reduction in the number of highly forwarded messages sent on WhatsApp.”
This is however not the first time we have seen changes implemented by WhatsApp to slow the spread of misinformation by users.
Two years ago, for example In 2018, WhatsApp started labelling all forwarded messages as “forwarded” to show the reader that the sender is not the source of this information.
Then last year in 2019, WhatsApp introduced a five-person forwarding limit for all messages being sent.
Apparently, they have encouraged the use of a World Health Organisation bot to help provide the public with verified and accurate information about all the news concerning the pandemic.
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