A global limit is now been implemented by WhatsApp on its users with regard to the number of times a particular message can be forwarded. Users can now forward a message only five times at once. WhatsApp limits message forwarding in order scale down the dissemination of misinformation on social network.
According to a report by Reuters, a WhatsApp spokesman stated, “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.” Before this limit was imposed, the users could forward a message twenty times at one go.
WhatsApp limits message forwarding-why?
WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, presently has more than a billion individual daily users. Various social networks, including WhatsApp, face a continuous problem of spreading of misleading information. For instance, in October 2018, certain false information spread across the network regarding Brazil’s Presidential elections.
Initially, the limit on forwarding messages-enforced as a result of a series of protests and killings in India. In Dhule, India, about 12 people-beaten up and five people-hanged to death. This occurred due to misleading information about child kidnappings that spread across social network. Due to this, in the month of July, WhatsApp set an initial limit of 20 for forwarding a message.
Prior to the initial limit, a message could be forward to up to 256 people. The five time limit on forwarding a message was first experimented in India.
Outcome of WhatsApp’s limit on message
WhatsApp’s global forwarding limit has helped in reducing the circulation of false information. Despite the fact that WhatsApp limits message forwarding to five, you can still forward messages to groups consisting of up to 256 people. Thus, regardless of the five time limit, a forwarded message can reach almost 1,300 people.
As stated by the WhatsApp spokesman, “WhatsApp carefully evaluated this test and listened to user feedback over a six-month period. The forward limit significantly reduced forwarded messages around the world. We’ll continue to listen to user feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content.”
Challenges faced by WhatsApp
Due to the differences in the network operation, tackling false information on WhatsApp and Facebook result in varied challenges. Majority of the messaging and sharing on WhatsApp takes place via private, encrypted channels. As a result of end-to-end encryption, users can send and receive texts, photos and videos without the oversight of moderators.
Therefore, it is comparatively more difficult to tackle the spreading of misinformation on WhatsApp than on Facebook.