WhatsApp announces it will be putting a limit on how many times a person can forward a message in a bid to curb the spread of fake news and hoaxes.
The Facebook-owned messaging service started implementing this on Monday, which was first tested in India. Previously, WhatsApp users can forward a message for as many as 20 times to persons or groups.
WhatsApp Tests Limit In India
WhatsApp first tested the message limit in India for six months after the spread of misinformation and dissemination of fake news on the app resulted to the accusation of five people being child abductors. This caused mob violence and even lynching, while there were more than 10 people that were beaten.
India accounts for the biggest market of the social network, with a reported 200 million users in the country. Now, WhatsApp is making the limit worldwide after it said it listened to users' feedback over the six-month testing.
"The forward limit significantly reduced forwarded messages around the world. We'll continue to listen to user feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content," a spokesperson said.
Rampant Spread Of Fake News
WhatsApp refused to grant some of the Indian government's requests such as tracing messages, but it had since made other moves like putting labels on forwarded messages so as to know which ones are originally created by the sender. Meanwhile, the recent news is a nod to the ever-growing problem of misinformation and spread of misleading content such as altered photos and cut clips of videos that provide no context whatsoever for the viewers.
The alarming rise of fake news has become rampant not only in WhatsApp but on other social media platforms as well. In Brazil, for example, this issue came in play during October's presidential elections, with one study saying that more than half of the most shared photos in the country were misleading.