WhatsApp message forwarding limited to slow COVID-19 misinformation spread

WhatsApp Message Forwarding - WhatsApp app icon

Facebook has taken yet another effort to try to stop people from pushing inaccurate coronavirus info.

WhatsApp message forwarding has been further limited as a part of a broader effort to slow the spread of coronavirus misinformation.

This is another sign of a tech company taking advanced measures to halt false info from being shared.

By shrinking the capacity for Facebook-owned WhatsApp message forwarding, it means that misinformation won’t be able to go as far and cannot move as fast. This is the latest of Facebook’s efforts to try to weed out false information and slow it from spreading when it does slip through the net.

The feature is one that makes it possible for users to be able to send a post on to someone else when they were not its original creator. It has become a highly popular feature. Unfortunately, it has also played a considerable role in sharing bad medical advice and outright misinformation about COVID-19.

The announcement about the reduced WhatsApp message forwarding was made in a blog post.

The blog post explained that once a message has been forwarded from one user to the next five times, the last recipient of the message will not be able to share it with several users. Instead, it can be shared with only one person or one specific chat group. The idea is to throttle the spread of message so their sharing cannot grow exponentially.

This change is meant to “keep conversations intimate” said the blog post from WhatsApp. “Is all forwarding bad? Certainly not,” it added. It underscored that funny memes are great, as are strategies for building public support for health care workers. In this way, the feature helps to share very positive messages.

At the same time, it also pointed out that it has “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.”

Tech companies are making moves like the WhatsApp message forwarding restrictions very quickly at WhatsApp Message Forwarding - WhatsApp app iconthe moment. They are trying to reduce the contribution of their platforms to the spread of coronavirus misinformation.

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