WhatsApp tweaks message forwarding options in India to curb toxic rumours

The announcement comes close on the heels of the government directing WhatsApp to curb the spread of rumours and hoaxes on its platform. PHOTO: Reuters

A day after the government issued a second notice to WhatsApp to check fake news, the instant messaging platform tweaked forwarding options on Friday.

The Facebook-owned platform will be limiting forwards of photos, videos and messages to five chats in India and remove the quick forward button next to media messages.

In a blog post, WhatsApp said, “Today, 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 5 chats at once and we'll remove the quick forward button next to media messages.”

The messaging platform has been facing government flak after the viral circulation of messages and videos on WhatsApp led to the lynchings of many people. 

The government had on Thursday issued a second notice to WhatsApp demanding more stringent solution to check fake news as the measures taken the instant messaging platform has not addressed the problem adequately. The government even warned WhatsApp of legal action and if it did not take necessary actions.

WhatsApp said it believes the fresh changes - which the company continue to evaluate - will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app.

“We are deeply committed to your safety and privacy which is why WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, and we'll continue to improve our app with features like this one,” WhatsApp said. 

The platform had added a feature that lets people forward a message to multiple chats at once. However, this feature was misused for spreading rumours which led to many instances of lynchings. 

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