Messaging service WhatsApp on Tuesday announced that it had decided to limit sharing of frequently forwarded messages to only one chat at a time. The new limit is intended to combat the spread of fake news and misinformation amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“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,” the company said in a blog post. “We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”
WhatsApp said that from last year itself, frequently forwarded messages are indicated by double arrows, to show that they did not originate from a close contact. This makes the messages less personal than other messages sent or forwarded on WhatsApp.
“We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful,” the messaging service firm said. “In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers.”
WhatsApp said that it is also working directly with non-governmental organizations and governments, including the World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information. “Our teams are hard at work to keep WhatsApp running reliably during this unprecedented global crisis,” the firm said.
According to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University, more than 13 lakh cases of the coronavirus have been reported around the world so far of which 74, 834 people have died and 2,85,084 have recovered. The pandemic has caused most countries to go into complete lockdown.