WhatsApp sets a new forward limit to contain the flood of coronavirus misinformation on its platform. Facebook's own messaging app, which hosts over 2 billion users worldwide, said that as of today, a message that has been shared five or more times can only be forwarded to one person or group at a time.
Previously, users had the option to forward each message to five chats simultaneously – a restriction that, according to WhatsApp, led to a 25% drop in message forwarding worldwide. With this new update, an additional rule is in effect that prevents you from forwarding this message to more than one contact.
“In the past few weeks, users have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments from frontline health worker support. However, we’ve noticed a significant increase in the amount of redirects that users have told us they feel overwhelming and can help spread misinformation. We believe it is important to slow down the spreading of these messages so WhatsApp remains a place for personal conversations, ”WhatsApp wrote in a blog post.
In addition to this new forward limit, WhatsApp is testing a way for users to look up frequently forwarded messages on Google by tapping a small magnifying glass option next to it. This feature allows users to search the web and instantly get matching web results to review the information. It is currently only available in the beta version of the Android client of the messaging app.
A coronavirus hotline was established in collaboration with the World Health Organization and a million dollars were donated to the International Fact-Checking Network of the Poynter Institute (IFCN).
The new border is likely to inhibit the spread of viruses to some extent. However, there are still a few gaps that malicious actors can exploit. In the past, it was found that people abuse WhatsApp's broadcast list feature, which allows you to send a message to a maximum of 256 contacts to spread propaganda.
Political groups are also known to spread misinformation by setting up WhatsApp accounts on multiple devices and building a chain of large groups. However, it's worth noting that WhatsApp has an automatic check that blocks such mass senders and, according to a published white paper, bans two million accounts every month. Editor's recommendations