WhatsApp has put a new limit on the number of people that a message can be forwarded to as part of its plans to clamp down on the wild rumors and crazy conspiracy theories regarding the pandemic. From now on, WhatsApp users will only be able to forward messages to one single person, possibly making it more difficult to spread misinformation on the platform.
In an official blog post, the company said that in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, there’ been “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”.
In addition to the aforementioned change, WhatsApp said it is working with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information. The company last month also unveiled a dedicated Coronavirus Information Hub and donated $1 million to fight misinformation.
WhatsApp has long been a favorite of conspiracy theorists and fake news peddlers in India and around the world. The app last year imposed limit of up to five forwards per message to prevent the spread of viral misinformation, and WhatsApp says it has helped reduce forwards by almost 25 percent on the platform. The company also started labeling forwarded messages back in 2018, and recently rolled out a new feature that enables users to verify the content of all forwarded messages.