The world's most popular messaging platform is implementing an odd method of stopping the flow of misinformation and 'fake news'.
WhatsApp will now start limiting users to forwarding a message only five times, in yet another attempt to curb down on the spread of misinformation. WhatsApp users on Android and iOS will no longer be able to forward messages to more than five individuals or groups.
The spread of misinformation has been a matter of concern for a couple of years, after multiple elections have been suspected to be swung using fake news.
With the upcoming General Elections in India, WhatsApp has been under immense pressure to reduce the malicious spread. We've already witnessed multiple incidents of mob lynching based on fake news and in the end, there's hardly any accountability.
WhatsApp says that the decision to limit forward messages to five chats has been taken globally after evaluating user feedback.
WhatsApp released a plethora of ads to make users more aware and cautious towards the spread of fake news. The app previously allowed up to 20 forwards per message. Messages can still be forwarded to groups, with each group including up to 256 people.
The company says the measures reduced forwarding by 25 per cent globally and more than that in India, which had one of the highest forwarding rates in the world.
In an update to its blog, WhatsApp said the move will help keep "WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts." A text message that has been forwarded to a new recipient is marked as forwarded in a light grey text but otherwise appears indistinguishable from an original message sent by a contact.
The app's end-to-end encryption allows groups of hundreds of users to exchange texts, photos and video beyond the purview of independent fact checkers or even the platform itself.
Last year, to combat the issue, the company also rolled out 'Suspicious Link Indicator' feature that locally detects suspicious links and notifies the recipient before they are opened.
With the new update, WhatsApp is bringing a few additions as well, including fingerprint unlock, third-party stickers integration, 3D Touch action for Status, and dark mode.