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WhatsApp puts new cap on forwarded messages to counter Covid-19 rumours

New WhatsApp feature will bar users from sending a message to more than one chat if it has been previously forwarded more than 5 times already.

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New Delhi: WhatsApp is limiting forwards to one chat at a time for certain messages to curb the spread of misinformation as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic. The messaging service owned by Facebook has announced that the new limit to frequently-forwarded messages kicks in once a message has already been forwarded five times.

According to this new feature that aims to “slow the spread of misinformation”, a user would be able to send a frequently forwarded message to only one chat at a time. The app has launched this feature to “contain virality and place limits on how people can send messages”.

“Our latest beta release also involves 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”, an official statement from WhatsApp read. “Double checking these messages before forwarding may reduce the spread of rumours.”

Also read: WhatsApp warriors during Covid-19 crisis — first line of defence for PM Modi

Curbing spread of false information

In January 2019, the company had set global limits to constrain virality. The app has also announced the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNDP for health workers, educators and others.

Recently, the Union Ministry of Health in partnership with WhatsApp also launched ‘MyGov Corona helpdesk‘ to ensure streaming of accurate health information related to Covid-19.

Similar services were launched in Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana and Kerala to provide accurate and credible information in both English, Hindi and the state-specific regional language.

The app has often been accused of letting its users spread false information and fake news on its platform. During the ongoing coronavirus crisis too, a flurry of such messages are shooting back and forth on WhatsApp and other social media platforms delivering a mix of fact, fiction and paranoia.

The World Health Organization recently said a message was circulating widely on the platform with the false claim that it has issued a set of lockdown protocols.

Also read: Team of ‘hoaxbusters’ at work to debunk coronavirus myths in 15 languages


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