WhatsApp Puts Limits On Forwarding Of Viral Messages Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
The Facebook Inc. WhatsApp application is displayed on a mobile phone in Virginia, U.S.. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg) 

WhatsApp Puts Limits On Forwarding Of Viral Messages Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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Facebook Inc.-owned WhatsApp will now allow users to send frequently forwarded messages to only one chat, as part of its efforts to curb misinformation on the coronavirus pandemic.

This limit will be in place once a message has been previously forwarded five times or more. The latest move comes as countries, including India, are initiating measures to tackle the spread of rumours, fake news and misinformation on social media platforms.

"We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time...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," WhatsApp said in its blog on Tuesday.

The messaging app is also testing a feature that would display a small magnifying glass next to any frequently forwarded messages. Users will be able to click on that and be taken to a web search for the message, with the intention of letting them find articles that may debunk the message or shed further light on any claims found within it—and not forward them on if they find the message is not true.

Last year, WhatsApp launched the 'forward' label with double arrows to indicate that a message did not originate from a close contact. It also limited message forwards to five chats at a time. These steps to constrain virality had led to a 25 percent decrease in message forwards globally, the company said.

WhatsApp, which has over 400 million users in India, is also engaging directly with non-governmental organisations and governments, World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information.

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