WhatsApp clamps down further on frequent forwards to stem misinformation

In order to help disseminate authentic information about coronavirus and Covid-19, WhatsApp is working with agencies and governments in India and abroad
In an attempt to fix the problem of spreading of misinformation, WhatsApp on Tuesday said it is launching a new feature to limit frequently forwarded messages. Once a message has been previously forwarded five times, it can henceforth only be forwarded one chat at a time.

The Facebook-owned messaging app, which has over 400 million users in India, also acknowledged reports that its latest beta release is working on a method to allow users to find out more information about messages that may be loaded with misinformation and which are likely being shared multiple times by users.

"That idea involves displaying a magnifying glass icon next to these frequently forwarded messages, giving users the option to send that message to a web search where they can find news results or other sources of information. Double-checking these messages before forwarding may help reduce the spread of rumours," WhatsApp said in a statement.

The Indian government has time and again raised the issue of misinformation being spread through different platforms.

Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad recently said action will be taken against social media platforms if they do not prevent fake news from being circulated about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has been working on the issue of misinformation for some time now. In January 2019, it set global limits on forwarded messages to constrain virality.

It introduced new privacy settings and an invite system to let users decide who can add them to groups, and bans up to two million accounts per month for attempting to send bulk or automated messages.

In order to help disseminate authentic information about coronavirus and Covid-19, WhatsApp is working with agencies and governments in India and abroad.

In India, WhatsApp has launched the MyGov Corona Helpdesk on the service in partnership with the the Indian government's crowdsourced ideas platform.

Similar services have been introduced in several states of India (Delhi +91 88000 07722, Maharashtra +91 20 2612 739, Gujarat +91 74330 00104, Telangana +91 90006 58658 and Kerala +91 90722 20183) to allow users to find credible and accurate information across the country both in English and their specific regional language, with more helplines expected to launch in the coming weeks.


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