Do you often share Whatsapp forwards? Facebook’s phone messaging platform, is reducing the amount of chats to which users can share frequently forwarded content to just one at a time, the company announced on April 7. The move aims to curb the spread of misinformation amid the coronavirus pandemic.
From unverified remedies to scams, some people are using social media to spread fake news amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, if a user receives a frequently forwarded message – one which has been forwarded more than five times – under the new curbs, they will only be able to send it on to a single chat at a time. That is one fifth the previous limit of five chats, imposed in 2019.
Whatsapp announced the new changes for its global users in a blog post on Tuesday.
“We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful,” said WhatsApp. “In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organise public moments of support for frontline health workers.”
“However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding, which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute 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.”
According to reports, the move comes after bogus conspiracy theories went viral linking 5G mobile networks with COVID-19 and appeared to inspire people to set fire to cell phone masts in the UK.
WhatsApp first throttled its 2 billion users from forwarding messages in 2018, after the feature was linked with mob violence and lynchings in India. Reportedly, WhatsApp said that its previous limits on message forwarding also “led to a 25 per cent decrease in message forwards globally at the time”.
Many social media users in the recent months, have urged people not to believe unverified Whatsapp forwards, especially in light of the pandemic.
Many countries including the UAE have said that sharing unverified information on social media is punishable by law.