WhatsApp also implemented new steps to restrict the dissemination of fake news at a time when people are more dependent than ever on messaging platforms. If a regularly sent message – a message sent over five times and visible by the double arrow icon is sent to you, you can only send it to one chat at a time.
In a blog post, the company says it’s seen a
“significant increase” in the number of forwarded messages on the platform, and while many of them are relatively innocent – memes and prayers, for example – this practice is contributing to the spread of misinformation. “We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation,” the company added.
This is not the first time WhatsApp has imposed such measures. After both it and its parent company Facebook were accused of playing a pivotal role in the spread of misinformation during violence in India in 2018, WhatsApp reduced the number of times a message could be forwarded from 20 to five.
The tighter rules won’t stop the spread of fake news entirely, and it’s not impossible for users to circumnavigate the measures by doctoring media or simply copying and pasting message text, but it’s an important step during what are globally worrying times, and further acknowledgement from Facebook that its services do play a role in fostering misinformation.