WhatsApp limits message forwarding to curb misinformation spread



WhatsApp imposed further limits on message forwarding.

Angela Lang/CNET

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WhatsApp is cracking down on messaging forwarding, it said Tuesday, in an effort to control the spread of misinformation linked to the coronavirus outbreak. If you get a message that’s been forwarded more than five times, you can only forward it to one chat at a time.

“We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful,” its blog post said. “However, 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.”

Before now, you could send such messages to five chats at a time — a limit the Facebook-owned messaging service imposed last year after 2018 mob violence and lynchings in India were linked to false information that spread on the app.

You can still forward messages one at a time, but WhatsApp is hoping that the added friction will discourage people from casually spreading rumors. The company also bans around two million accounts a month for attempting to send bulk or automated messages.

WhatsApp teamed up with health officials to create a Coronavirus Information Hub and provided a $1 million grant to fight misinformation linked to the disease. It’s also reportedly testing a fact-checking feature for messages.

WhatsApp imposed further limits on message forwarding.

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