WhatsApp is enforcing a new rule that will limit the number of message forwarding to five. This is in line with the company’s plans to curb the menace called rumors. Rumors and misinformation are two of the biggest problems facing users of the messaging app in many countries—India in particular.
A company executive Victoria Grand, vice president policy and communications at WhatsApp, said at an event in the Indonesian capital per Reuters: “We’re imposing a limit of five messages all over the world as of today.”
Until now, a WhatsApp user could forward a message to as much as 20 other users or groups. This new measure has been in place in India since July following widespread rumors on social media that led to threats and loss of lives of many people in that country.
There have been great concerns over how the Facebook-owned messaging app is being used to spread fake news and rumors. This situation generated a lot of tension among government and individuals; but there could be renewed hope with this new rule which could help make the app safe for all.
What makes fake news and rumors on WhatsApp so difficult to stop is the fact that there is no way to track perpetrators of such acts. The fact that the messaging app offers an end-to-end encryption makes it even more difficult to track down people who spread fake news.
Independent fact checkers do not have access to messages or news being spread through the platform, which makes unsuspecting users vulnerable or at the mercies of people who engage in such acts.
An update integrating the new feature into the app will first be made available to all Android users, while iOS users will have their turn at a yet to be announced date.
We just hope that this helps in no small way to curb the menace that is called fake news and help make the platform a safe place for all.
In August, WhatsApp turned down a request made by India to start tracking messages shared between users of the app. The request by authorities in India came on the heels of mob violence recorded in the country a couple of months preceding the request.
A WhatsApp spokesperson Carl Woog in a statement per CNN said: “People rely on WhatsApp for all kinds of sensitive conversations, including with their doctors, banks and families.”
According to Woog, tracing individual messages “would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp, creating the potential for serious misuse. We will not weaken the privacy protections WhatsApp provides.”
In a bid to curb spam and tackle mob violence in India, WhatsApp had during the course of 2018 launched its ‘Forwarded’ messages tag. When next you forward a message to another user, a “Forwarded” label will appear at the top of the message.
Maybe not the kind of update many would have loved to see, but it does remove the stress of having to personally inform recipients of a message that the chat was copied.