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WhatsApp limits message forwarding to tackle misinformation

20 July 2018

In its latest announcement, WhatsApp recognised that more users in India forwarded messages as it wrote in its blog post, "Today, we're launching a test to limit forwarding that will apply to everyone using WhatsApp".

India has grown into WhatsApp's largest market globally with 230 million users and the payments business has drawn almost 1 million people since the limited, beta test was unveiled in February.

The Economic Times on Friday reported that senior WhatsApp officials had met with officials from the Election Commission and major political parties to assure them of the company's intentions to prevent misuse of the platform in India's coming election cycle.

Coming to the WhatsApp quick forward disabling feature, if a user forwards a media file for five users and crosses the limit, then WhatsApp will disable the button. Well, now WhatsApp decided to make changes to the app that will make it harder for users to quickly share messages to multiple groups. We believe that these changes - which we'll continue to evaluate - will help keep WhatsApp the way it was created to be: "a private messaging app", the company announced in a blog post.

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"Rivals have an early-mover advantage and a further hold-up could mean that WhatsApp loses out on converting users and business customers", said Arnav Gupta, a New Delhi-based digital business strategy analyst at Forrester Research Inc. Now users around the world will only be able to forward messages to 20 people at once.

Up until now, you could forward a message to multiple chats at once.

"The kind of fake news being spread through these platforms is scary and is getting out of control", Singh, now the chairman of the Police Foundation of India, told Al Jazeera.

In its first such effort to combat the flurry of fake messages, the firm took out advertisements last week in key Indian newspapers aiming to dispel misinformation.

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This comes after the government mounted pressure on social media sites and messaging apps to regulate norms accordingly to handle the menace of rumours and fake news on its platform.

Rumours on WhatsApp have provoked a spate of incidents involving mob fury, including one where five men were lynched on the suspicion of being child lifters in Maharashtra's Rainpada village of Dhule district.

Three people have been beaten to death in recent weeks.

"Rampant circulation of irresponsible messages in large volumes on their platform have not been addressed adequately by WhatsApp", it said. The notice asked WhatsApp to implement "more effective solutions" that can bring in "accountability and facilitate enforcement of law" in the wake of rising incidents of rumours on Whatsapp triggering lynching incidents in the country.

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WhatsApp limits message forwarding to tackle misinformation