WhatsApp new limit cuts ‘highly forwarded’ messages by 70%

by Simon Cohen

In its fight to stop misinformation, WhatsApp introduced a new limit for highly forwarded messages earlier this month, and the limit is already paying off. On Monday, WhatsApp stated that the spread of highly forwarded messages sent via the platform had dropped by 70%, just a few weeks after it introduced the limit.

In one of WhatsApp’s biggest changes, one can only send along frequently forwarded message he/she receives to one individual or group at a time, down from five. This restriction was rolled out to users on April 7.

“We recently introduced a limit to sharing highly forwarded messages to just one chat. Since putting into place this new limit, globally there has been a 70% reduction in the number of highly forwarded messages sent on WhatsApp,” a spokesperson for WhatsApp told TechCrunch in a statement.

WhatsApp had introduced a similar restriction back in 2018 when it restricted users from forwarding highly forwarded messages to more than five individuals or groups at once.

While announcing the new restriction, WhatsApp said that messages forwards on the platform had reduced by 25% globally in two years.

“This change is helping keep WhatsApp a place for personal and private conversations. WhatsApp is committed to doing our part to tackle viral messages,” the spokesperson added.

This cut down should help the platform assuage the scrutiny it has been receiving from many countries, including its biggest market, India. Earlier this month, New Delhi asked WhatsApp and other social media firms to do more when it comes to controlling viral hoaxes circulating in the platforms about COVID-19.

Earlier this month, WhatsApp said that it had seen a sudden increase in the amount of forwarding in recent weeks that users of the platform had told WhatsApp that it could contribute to the spread of misinformation.

Several users in India have circulated messages that claimed the cure for coronavirus infection had been found, although most sent the messages in good faith. Most of these messages came with scientific explanations, but fact-checkers said that none of the claims was factual.

WhatsApp and Facebook, its parent firm, have taken efforts in recent weeks to help governments, including its biggest market, India, reach out to their citizens and share factual information about COVID-19 pandemic.

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