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WhatsApp restricts message forwarding to slow spread of hoaxes and fake news

FACEBOOK-OWNED MESSAGING SERVICE WhatsApp is clamping down on messaging forwarding in a bid to slow the spread of hoaxes and fake news. 

The move follows a series of violent incidents in India, WhatsApp’s biggest market with more than 200 million users, that have been credited to false social media messages. 

The BBC reported about an incident which saw one man killed and two others severely beaten after rumours of their efforts to abduct children spread on WhatsApp. According to the report, 17 other Indian citizens have died in the past year under similar circumstances, with police saying false rumours and doctored videos had spread via WhatsApp.

While WhatsApp earlier this month rolled out a label to identify messages which are not original and have been forwarded, the Indian government on Thursday asked WhatsApp for “more effective solutions” that can bring in “accountability and facilitate enforcement of law”. 

In response, WhatsApp said that it is launching a “test” to limit the forwarding.  

Previously users could forward to over 250 people at once, butnow the limit has been reduced to 20. In India, it will be restricted to five, and a “quick forward” button next to media messages will be removed.

“We’re launching a test to limit forwarding that will apply to everyone using WhatsApp. In India – where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world – we’ll also test a lower limit of five chats at once and we’ll remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” WhatsApp said.

“We believe that these changes – which we’ll continue to evaluate – will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app.”

While the company’s blog post didn’t comment on the recent incidents in India, a WhatsApp spokesperson said to Recode that “We’re horrified by the violence in India, and we’ve announced number of different product changes to help address these issues.” µ

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Source : Inquirer

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