WhatsApp is on a mission to slow the spread of fake news between users and that’s why earlier this year it imposed a strict new limit on message forwarding. This feature means users who plan on forwarding a message that has been identified as “highly forwarded” will only be to send it to a single contact at a time.
A “highly forwarded” message is defined as media that has been sent through a chain of five or more contacts.
This isn’t the first time WhatsApp has introduced a limit like this – in 2019, the Facebook-owned chat app reduced the number of immediate forwarding contacts to five. These messages were labelled with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from a close contact.
WhatsApp says that now it is “piloting a simple way to double-check these messages by tapping a magnifying glass button in the chat. Providing a simple way to search messages that have been forwarded many times may help people find news results or other sources of information about the content they have received”.
And this feature works by “allowing users to upload the message via their browser without WhatsApp ever seeing the message itself”.
This restriction comes at a critical time where social media platforms need to be more proactive than usual in tackling misinformation – especially relating to the current COVID-19 pandemic. With billions of people unable to see their friends and family in person due to COVID-19, people are relying on WhatsApp more than ever to communicate.
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