WhatsApp has taken the much-needed decision of curbing its forward limit to one chat a time to curb the fake news that is being spread on the Coronavirus pandemic. Off late, the Facebook-owned platform had become a hotbed of misinformation on the COVID-19 outbreak.
Fake forwards on symptoms, cures, government advisories, and lockdown extensions have been increasingly being shared on WhatsApp adding to unnecessary panic amongst people. WhatsApp has now taken this issue into consideration and announced the decision to curb the number of times a message is forwarded.
“With billions of people unable to see their friends and family in person due to COVID-19, people are relying on WhatsApp more than ever to communicate. People are talking to doctors, teachers, and isolated loved ones via WhatsApp during this crisis,” says the company in a blogpost.
“Last year we introduced users to the concept of messages that have been forwarded many times. These messages are labeled with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from a close contact. In effect, these messages are less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp. We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time,” adds WhatsApp in its blog.
The hugely popular free messaging platform also claims that the previous limits it set on forwarded messages to constrain virality led to a 25% decrease in message forwards globally at the time. The blog post also mentions that they were working directly with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information.
The Facebook-owned platform has been taking other measures as well to reduce the extensive pressure on Internet servers due to the 21 days lockdown period. Recently, WhatsApp status video in India has now been restricted to 15 seconds to ensure the same.