WhatsApp is one of the biggest platforms used to spread fake news. Most people tend to forward messages without thinking twice. If you are forwarding memes or funny videos, this does no harm but the same cannot be said when comes to sensitive stories that have not been confirmed or just fake news in general.
WhatsApp knows that allowing people to forward messages helps the spread of fake news to some extent. This is why the company is planning to limit the number of times users can forward any single message. With these changes, the limit will be set at five and you will not be able to forward a single message more that five times.
WhatsApp first introduced this policy in India last year as the country saw an increase in mob attacks that were blamed on fake reports said to have spread through the app. In Kenya, we have seen WhatsApp being used to spread fake news during the elections in 2017. This was one of the biggest platforms used to spread fake news during the elections and we keep seeing it being used from time to time as people do not take time to verify some of the messages they get through the platform.
WhatsApp has confirmed that it is rolling out this “feature” globally after enforcing it in India for 6 months. Previously, you could forward messages up to 20 times but now that is limited to 5.
“WhatsApp carefully evaluated this test and listened to user feedback over a six-month period. The forward limit significantly reduced forwarded messages around the world,” a spokesperson said.
“Starting today, all users on the latest versions of WhatsApp can now forward to only five chats at once, which will help keep WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts. We’ll continue to listen to user feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content.”
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