WhatsApp has recently announced that it will be putting a limit on message forwarding to reduce the flow of misinformation on the platform.
According to WhatsApp:
"Last year we introduced users to the concept of messages that have been forwarded many times. These messages are labeled with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from a close contact. In effect, these messages are less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp. We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time."
Initially, people could forward a message to up to 256 contacts at once but recently WhatsApp restricted message forwarding to only 5 people at a time. WhatsApp has also started identifying messages as 'highly forwarded' if they are sent to five or more people and you can only forward such messages to only a single person.
Many reports have highlighted that WhatsApp has become the main source of misinformation campaigns. During the COVID-19 pandemic, false news has been rotating around the app related to the virus, which not only suggests fake cures but also unreal 'facts' about the virus.
WhatsApp is quite a popular messaging app among the masses, especially in the developing regions of the world and its reach signals a cause of concern in this respect. Therefore, it is essential to limit misinformation on the app to curb the coronavirus. People must get access to accurate information so that they can stay updated and protect themselves and their loved ones better.
Facebook has been putting in a lot of effort to combat false information, but with WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption-that doesn't allow anyone other than the one who is involved in a conversation to see the content being shared-it faces a challenge.
Forwarding restrictions make sense, especially during this time, but the pressure building up on Facebook to reduce misinformation on WhatsApp can alter Facebook's plans to roll out end-to-end encryption for its other messaging services in the future.