WhatsApp will only let people forward messages 5 times to fight fake news

  • WhatsApp is limiting the number of times users can forward messages on to each other from 20 to five, Reuters reports.
  • The change applies to all users.
  • WhatsApp’s vice president for policy and communications Victoria Grand announced the change in Jakarta on Monday.
  • The messaging app has already trialled the five-forwards restriction in India, where a series of high-profile lynchings were supposedly sparked by false information going viral on the app.

WhatsApp users will now only be able to forward a message five times, the Facebook-owned messaging company has announced.

Previously users of the messaging app, which last year attained 1.5 billion monthly users, could forward any single message to up to 20 other individuals or groups. The new change applies to all users.

WhatsApp’s vice president for policy and communications Victoria Grand announced the change at an event in Jakarta on Monday, saying it will be rolled out worldwide, Reuters reports.

WhatsApp has already trialled the five-forward limit in India since July 2018, following a series of lynchings which were sparked by users mass-forwarding each other false information to each other. A WhatsApp spokesperson told Business Insider that during this trial period, it saw a 25% reduction of forwarded messages.

“WhatsApp carefully evaluated this test and listened to user feedback over a six-month period. The forward limit significantly reduced forwarded messages around the world. Starting today, all users on the latest versions of WhatsApp can now forward to only five chats at once, which will help keep WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts. We’ll continue to listen to user feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content,” the spokesperson said.


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The messaging app has also come under fire for its role in spreading political propaganda and misinformation. This drew particular attention in the run-up to the Brazilian presidential election last year. A BBC investigation found that political campaigners had scraped people’s Facebook data to target them with messages on WhatsApp.

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