WhatsApp is limiting the number of times you can forward a message to your friends in a bid to curb fake news

Five – that’s the maximum amount of times you will be able to forward a message on WhatsApp. The new limit is created in a bid to fight “misinformation and rumours”, WhatsApp execs told Reuters.

“We’re imposing a limit of five messages all over the world as of today,” Victoria Grand, vice president for policy and communications at WhatsApp, said at an event in the Indonesian capital.

Previously, a WhatsApp user could forward a message to 20 individuals or groups. The five-recipient limit expands globally a measure WhatsApp put into place in India in July after the spread of rumours on social media led to killings and lynching attempts.

WhatsApp, which has around 1.5 billion users, has been trying to find ways to stop misuse of the app, following global concern that the platform was being used to spread fake news, manipulated photos, videos without context, and audio hoaxes, with no way to monitor their origin or full reach.

The app’s end-to-end encryption allows groups of hundreds of users to exchange texts, photos and video beyond the purview of independent fact checkers or even the platform itself.

WhatsApp will roll out an update to activate the new forward limit, starting Monday, WhatsApp’s head of communications Carl Woog told Reuters.

Android users will receive the update first, followed by iOS users shortly after.

Limiting the unlimited

The move to limit the number of times a user can forward a message over WhatsApp may be grounded by real concerns of limiting the spread of fake news but I’m not sure if the move will be effective in actually curbing the spread of fake news or if it is a move that is just for show.

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While the platform can limit the number of times you can forward a message, it doesn’t stop you from downloading a particular image or video, or copying the message and redistributing it to your friends. It that respect, limiting the number of times you can forward a message does very little to stop the spread of fake news.

[via Malay Mail]