With the hyper-growth of social media platforms, the virality of misinformation has become another pandemic which now needs aggressive checking. To tackle the spread of misinformation on its platform, WhatsApp has now put a limit on the sharing of frequently forwarded messages to only one chat at a time.
The decision has come at a time when misinformation around Covid-19 has been spreading fast. Recently, Bytedance-owned TikTok also faced some heat from users and the media for videos that emphasised that a particular religion can’t be affected by the deadly virus.
“We wanted to highlight a feature change that WhatsApp is rolling out today to slow the spread of misinformation. Today we are announcing a new limit so frequently forwarded messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time. This limit kicks in once a message has been previously forwarded 5 times or more,” a WhatsApp official said in a statement.
Besides, WhatsApp also said that it is working with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information around Covid-19.
The latest beta version of the app has a feature now which allows users to look for more information via a magnifying glass icon next to the frequently forwarded messages. This will allow them to check for the veracity or authenticity of the shared message from other sources, enabling the user to make a choice of not forwarding such messages in turn.
“Double-checking these messages before forwarding may help reduce the spread of rumors. This feature is currently in testing and we’ll keep you updated on next steps,” the statement said.
Last year, WhatsApp had limited the forwarding option to five chats globally. The instant messaging service has further limited this to one now. According to WhatsApp, its attempt led to a 25% decrease in message forwards globally at the time. This is a significant move by the app that has over 400 million users in India and it would certainly help in controlling the virality of unverified information.