WhatsApp has made a decision to restrict its message forwarding feature to curb fake news related to COVID-19. Users will now be restricted to sharing content that has already been forwarded numerous times just one chat at a time. "Our teams are hard at work to keep WhatsApp running reliably during this unprecedented global crisis", the firm said.
WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, has reported significant increases in the amount of message forwarding, which it said was leaving certain users overwhelmed and was contributing to the proliferation of misinformation.
The move is aimed at reducing the speed at which the information spreads on the app, in particular, information that is repeatedly forwarded.
The news comes nearly two years after WhatsApp first implemented limits on message forwarding.
Received a forwarded message and not sure if it's a hoax?
WhatsApp had announced forward limiting previous year Messages that have been forwarded now have a "Forwarded tag" with double arrows symbol to inform the recipients that the message is a forward.
On Tuesday, WhatsApp shared a blog post noting that it will impose new conversation rules limiting the forwarding of messages identified as "highly forwarded" with immediate effect. In order to tackle the spread of fake news, now the users can send a frequently forwarded message to one user at a time only.
WhatsApp disables message forwarding. The number of messages exchanged on the platform every day is unfathomed and a big share of these messages comprises multimedia like GIFs, photos, videos, documents, etc.
With more than a billion users worldwide, WhatsApp has become a key source of information and communication during the pandemic. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organise public moments of support for frontline health workers. Amidst the lockdown, the spread of any sort of misinformation can take a unsafe turn and cause a lot of chaos.
There were also reports earlier that WhatsApp is working on a feature that lets users search for "Frequently Forwarded Messages" on the internet.