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WhatsApp Introduces Forwarding Limits in an Effort to Reduce Fake News

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In an ongoing effort to curb the spread of erroneous information, WhatsApp has revealed that it will now limit the number of people you can forward a message to.

According to a new press release from the Facebook-owned messaging service, users will now only be able to forward messages to 20 contacts at a time.

In India, where false rumours about child abduction spread virally over WhatsApp, leading to several vigilante murders over the past year, the new limit will be even stricter: each message can be forwarded just five times.

In that country, where according to Facebook “people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world”, WhatsApp is also removing the “quick forward” feature, a button that appears next to photos, videos, and links. The previous forwarding cap, rarely hit by users, was more than 250.

“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 five chats at once and we’ll remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” WhatsApp said.

The changes are designed to help reduce the amount of information that goes viral on the service, although clearly, this isn’t a move that will end the problem altogether.

“We believe that these changes – which we’ll continue to evaluate – will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app.”

Earlier this month, WhatsApp started putting a “forwarded” label on all forwarded messages to make them easier to spot. It also bought full-page advertisements in over 30 Indian newspapers in seven languages with tips to fight misinformation.

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