WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging platforms in the world, but inadvertently it also serves as a venue for the spread of fake news, scams, and misinformation, something that it’s now looking to address head-on. The Facebook-owned company has been taking steps to curb this trend and get users to think twice before forwarding messages that might be misleading or false. To this extent, it recently added a “forwarded” label that lets users know when a message has been forwarded rather than composed by the sender themselves. Taking things to the next level, WhatsApp has now announced additional steps in this direction.
One of the easiest ways to get a message across as many people as possible is to mass-forward it, sending it to numerous groups at a time. As part of its latest effort, WhatsApp is now imposing limits on how many groups you can target with one message. Worldwide, users will have a limit of 20 groups to which they can send a single message. In India, however, the spread of misinformation and fake news is more problematic and has even led to several deaths, so the country has special treatment, with its limit sitting at five groups. At the same time, WhatsApp users in India no longer have access to the “quick forward” option as of this week.
The additional measures are still in a testing phase and based on how things work out, the company will later decide whether to make them permanent. WhatsApp hopes that these changes will prompt users to think twice before spreading possibly fake news, especially in India. As a reminder, recently there have been several cases in India in which some people, acting based on fake news they read online, acted as vigilantes and killed other people. If these measures don’t manage to reduce the spread of misinformation on the platform, WhatsApp will likely implement more changes down the line.