Fake news has become a real propaganda tool, and in some cases, it led to grave situations. Since WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps in the world, it makes sense that many users began using it to broadcast information, including fake news.
It appears that WhatsApp realized its role and the app decided to limit the number of users you can forward a message to. Right now limited forwarding exists only in India. However, this new limit will become available worldwide. Initially, the limit was 20 people or groups. Now, it is possible to forward a message only to 5 persons or groups.
The company made the announcement in a blog post yesterday:
Starting today, all users on the latest versions of WhatsApp can now forward to only five chats at once, which will help keep WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts. We’ll continue to listen to user feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content.
At the moment, restricting message forwarding is one of the best solutions for the fake news issue. As we already know, it is impossible to WhatsApp security to check the messages themselves, as all messages are encrypted and they are not allowed to read them anyway. Therefore, they can’t filter the content of the messages, which means that restricting their forwards works as an alternative.
The fact that WhatsApp acknowledged its part in the spread of misinformation is very important. We can only hope that Facebook will take more similar solutions as well. For example, last week more than 300 Facebook pages were deleted. The pages pretended to be news sites, while in fact, they belonged to the Russian propaganda network. False information has been used as a weapon even in presidential campaigns, so it is a good thing to see big companies fight against it.
Nora Reynolds is a major in biology and a minor in Biological Basis of Behavior, writing about science in general. She also likes to try new gadgets and sports about the AI new era.