Whatsapp Is Now Putting Limit On Forwarding Messages To Combat Fake News Spread Related To Coronavirus
On 8th April 2020
Whatsapp has recently been criticized for playing a major role in spreading messages that contains misinformation related to COVID-19. With the uncertainty surrounding this virus, it can lead to a bigger disaster than the pandemic itself. Based on this reason, Whatsapp has announced to place new limits on the forwarding of messages.
With the world suffering from COVID-19, and uncertainty surrounding the situation has made it more vulnerable to hoax news. This is the only reason why Whatsapp announced on Tuesday that it would place limits on the forwarding of the messages. On this basis, messages identified as highly forwarded and spread through the chain of five or more people can only be forwarded to a single person.
The action is done to control the amount of fake news surrounding COVID-19 that has resulted in spreading panic and confusion among masses globally.
“We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers,” the company, which is part of Facebook, said in a blog post. “However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”
Previously it was easy to forward messages to as many as 256 contacts with a single tap. These messages initially were not labeled as forwarding messages and because of end to end encryption, it made it very difficult for the authorities to determine who was using the app for spreading hate speech and violence among the public. This led to major crises in India due to mob violence.
Because of such cases reported, in 2018 Whatsapp started to experiment limits on the number of messages forwarded. It also labeled messages as forward and those which were repeatedly forwarded appear with two arrows. Last year, the company began limiting the number of people you can forward a single message to five.
Amid the conspiracies related to COVID-19, there has been a lot of misinformation spread through the app. This has lead to not only panic and fear but it has put people at risk of practicing dangerous actions in the name of treatment.
For this reason, WhatsApp has come under the spotlight for the way it can be used to spread misinformation. Last month, CNN and other news organizations found that the app had been used to share a variety of false information about “cures” for COVID-19 and hoaxes about military activity related to the disease. The prime minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, urged people to “please stop sharing unverified info on Whatsapp groups.”
In response to this, Whatsapp promoted a bot made by the World Health Organization that contains information regarding diseases that have been vetted by healthcare professionals. It has been used by millions of people. WhatsApp also donated $1 million to the International Fact-Checking Network.