WhatsApp limits forwards to one chat at a time in a bid to combat fake news
Ever since its meteoric rise to the top as one of the world's most popular instant messaging platforms, WhatsApp has been engaged in a never-ending battle with the distribution of fake news through its platform. The problem is especially bad in places where users are new to the internet and are unable to differentiate between fact and fiction. WhatsApp has now implemented some more rules to stymie the flow of disinformation.
According to WhatsApp's latest blog post, the company will now let users forward a message to one chat at a time. One can still go about this restriction by sending the text to every individual or group separately, but it makes the process of mass broadcasting information far more cumbersome.
An earlier restriction capped the number of times a particular text can be forwarded to twenty. These measures should help slow down the proliferation of rumors on the platform by a significant amount. Unfortunately, bad actors will always find a way to circumvent any new rules implemented by WhatsApp, so everyone should remain vigilant at all times.
The change will also affect genuine users who want to share critical information related to the COVID 19 epidemic. To counter that, WhatsApp says that it is working with several governments and NGOs to help combat rumors centered around the virus, and has sent 'hundreds of millions' of messages to users requesting information about the topic.
WhatsApp has gotten in trouble with authorities several times due to its users' forwarding habits. Unverified rumors spread over the platform have even resulted in deaths in some instances. It is why WhatsApp has been cracking down on one of its most heavily-used features. The ability to forward messages is an essential feature of an instant messaging application, and getting rid of it altogether would not sit well with its users. It is the real-world equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.