WhatsApp Limits Message Sharing to Combat Fake News

WhatsApp Fake News

WhatsApp introduced forwarding limits six months ago in India following a number of violent incidents where misinformation was spread via the messaging app.

WhatsApp will limit users to forwarding a single message more than five times in an attempt to tackle the spread of fake news and misinformation on the platform.  

The company, which is owned by Facebook, introduced the policy six months ago in India following a number of violent incidents where misinformation was spread via the messaging app.  

Up until now, WhatsApp users have been able to forward messages up to 20 times.

Before the update, a single user could potentially reach more than 5,000 people through the forwarding feature.  

With groups capable of hosting up to 256 users, the platform has been used as a breeding ground for misinformation and fake news reports. However, under new rules, a single user will only be able to reach up to 1,280 people.  

WhatsApp announced the updates at an event in Jakarta, Indonesia. The company has been trialling the new rules as part of a six-month test ahead of general elections in April this year.  

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A spokesperson said the updates “significantly reduced forward messages around the world”.

They added: “This will help keep WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts. We’ll continue to listen to users feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content.”

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The move comes at the height of a precarious time for both WhatsApp and its parent company, Facebook.  

Facebook has been subject to intense scrutiny for its role in spreading propaganda and misinformation.  

The firm announced last week that more than 500 pages and accounts were removed for spreading fake news stories in Central and Eastern Europe.

The majority of pages and accounts were located in Russia and were targeting social media users across most regions in Eastern Europe. Organisations running these networks are alleged to have posed as independent news sources, publishing content on a range of topics and issues other than politics or current affairs.

New fact-checking measures have also been introduced by Facebook that will see UK-based company, Full Fact, moderate content on the platform. 

Read more: Facebook Fact-Checking Initiative Launches in UK

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