WhatsApp has announced that it will prevent its users from forwarding a message to more than 5 individuals or groups at one go in an effort to curb the spread of fake news across the world. This follows the initial limit of 20, that was implemented a while back, with India specifically having a limit of 5.
The issue of limiting forwarded messages arose after WhatsApp was blamed for fuelling violence, last July, in India as the platform was used to spread misinformation through networks of friends and families.
The company has now decided to spread the 5 person limit to all users globally, effectively making it harder for news to spread like wildfire. As part of the measure to curb fake news, WhatsApp started marking forwarded messages with a “Forwarded” tag but critics have claimed that this is not enough as the tag is easily lost in text.
The new forward limit was announced by the company’s vice-president for policy and communications, Victoria Grand, announced the policy at an event in Jakarta on Monday. According to WhatsApp, this 5 user limit will help keep the platform the way it was designed to be, “a private messaging app”.
Interestingly, critics have still suggested further changes to WhatsApp to further stifle the spread of misinformation. Among the suggestions, is that Facebook (which owns WhatsApp) should feature the identity of the creator of a message as part of the tag on forwarded messages so that accountability is not lost.
The new limit will apply to both iOS and Android users.