With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, WhatsApp has become one of the most important platforms where people get information. As people spend more time at home, more messages are being forwarded on the Facebook-owned platform. In a blog post, the company announced it is limiting messages that have been forwarded many times to one chat at a time.
“We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers. However, 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. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation,” WhatsApp revealed in a blog post.
In 2018, WhatsApp began labelling messages with the “Forwarded” tag in order to combat misinformation. This helped users identify original messages but didn’t stop the spread of harmful information becoming viral since people could still forward BCs as they are called to as much as 256 contacts.
Last year, the company took a further step by limiting the number to which messages can be forwarded to only 5 contacts at once. The company also ensured messages that had been forwarded a lot of times came with double arrows. According to WhatsApp, this worked as it “saw a 25% decrease in total message forwards globally.”
WhatsApp says it is also working with NGOs and authorities to get the right information across to people in order to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.