WhatsApp on Tuesday has placed new limits on forward messages as a measure of eradicating the spread of false information about the coronavirus pandemic.
The new policy limits users to sending certain messages to one “chat” at a time, aiming to limit the rapid propagation of content which is provocative but likely to be false.
The Facebook-owned messaging platform said it took the action to enable people to concentrate on personal and private communications during the health crisis.
In recent weeks, “we’ve 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,” WhatsApp said in a blog post.
“We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”
Last year, WhatsApp set limits on forwarded messages to five chats at a time, “to constrain virality,”
responding to events in India where the rapid proliferation of unverified information led to mob violence.
The new policy applies to messages forwarded “many times” and marked with a double-arrow, indicating that it did not originate from a close contact, according to WhatsApp.
“In effect, these messages are less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp,” the blog said.
“We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time.”
WhatsApp along with its parent Facebook have been scrambling to curb an explosion of rumors and hoaxes about the coronavirus and at the same time seeking to promote verified content.