Whatsapp to Set a Limit on its Forwards to Combat Rumor Spread

In a bid to control the spreading of rumors or fake information on its platform, Whatsapp has come up with a solution. It plans on setting a limit to the number of times a particular message can be forwarded. By doing this, the spread of incorrect information can be prevented as it cannot be forwarded to multiple groups and people.  

The messaging service that is owned by Facebook has said that any message that has been sent at least five or more times is liable to receive a limit that will disallow the user from sending it to more than one contact (or chat) at a single time. 

According to a spokesperson from WhatsApp, this change is expected to take effect worldwide starting today. 

It can be recalled that sometime during the previous year, WhatApp had implemented a new rule that any particular message can be sent to a maximum of five contacts at a single time. The latest move taken by WhatsApp can be considered as an extension to the same. Presently, WhatsApp is used by about 2 billion users worldwide. The latest effort is expected to reduce the message forwards across the globe by almost 25%. 

Owing to the end-to-end encryption feature on WhatsApp (only the parties between which messages are exchanged are able to read the message), it is unable to read or decode the contents of a message. It leaves the messaging service to depend on the metadata of a message so that the percentage of its spread can be ascertained. 

Now, all this might leave a question in many of our minds on whether forwarding of all messages is wrong. “Certainly not,” the company replied by means of a blog post.

It further went on to say, “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. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for a personal conversation.”

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Many deaths have taken place worldwide owing to fake news circulating on WhatsApp. Many of these have taken place in India, WhatsApp biggest market, where a series of fake news messages regarding child kidnappings were being circulated a few months back. On account of these types of forwards, people, mistaken to be these abductors, were being killed. 

Facebook has taken up a lot of initiatives during the past few weeks as the world is struggling to fight against the COVID-19 virus. It may be recalled that quite recently, it had provided governments as well as agencies with free developer tools to contain the spread of the virus. It has also displayed a coronavirus information center over the news feed area to provide some useful information and tips regarding the disease. 

The social media giant has also joined hands with nonprofit organizations like the WHO to provide helplines. It has preached to donate millions of dollars. About 10 million users have been able to access the WHO’s helpline that is launched on Messenger and WhatsApp, within a few days of its release. A WhatsApp chatbot had also been launched by the Indian government last month.

However, one disadvantage of all this could be that of scammers. Stan Chudnovsky, VP of Messenger, has stated that “Unfortunately, scammers may try to take advantage of people’s vulnerability and generosity during this time.”

WhatsApp has also been testing a feature wherein users would have the opportunity to surf the net with the text or video content received as a part of a forwarded message. It could immediately give the receiver an idea of the message on whether it is fake or real. This feature is being tested on the beta version of its Android app. 

Rosa Margaret

Rosa Margaret is a Senior Architect who plays a role of designing, planning and developing different projects for her firm. She is highly skilled in analyzing blueprints, sketches, and models for environmental and safety issues. She loves to do gardening in her free time which is quite evident in her exquisitely maintained backyard.

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