Having struggled with the spread of fake news for years, WhatsApp has introduced a new rule for the messaging service concerning forwarding messages.
Users will be blocked from forwarding messages to more than five individuals or groups under these new rules to fight the spread of fake news.
The company’s vice-president for policy and communications, Victoria Grand, announced the policy at an event in Jakarta on Monday.
The five-recipient limit was initially put in place in India last July after the messaging service was blamed for a spate of vigilante killings triggered by misinformation spread through networks of friends and families. A larger limit, of 20 recipients, was put in place globally at the same time.
In a blogpost last July, WhatsApp said the limits would “help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app”.
WhatsApp’s message forwarding mechanics have been blamed for helping the spread of fake news, in part because of the way the app displays forwarded messages. A text message that has been forwarded to a new recipient is marked as forwarded in light grey text but otherwise appears indistinguishable from an original message sent by the contact.
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