Categories: Technology

WhatsApp curbs the spread of misinformation, limits message forwarding


WhatsApp is clamping down on spreaders of misinformation. It will, now, limit message forwarding for messages forwarded five times or more.

The secure messaging app is dropping its gauntlets over the spread of misinformation amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

While the whole world is battling to fend off the spread of the virus, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg is fighting off a completely different battle.

Misinformation and Fear Mongering

In order to positively contribute to the spread of only factual news, WhatsApp has implemented message forwarding control.

It has limited messages that have been previously forwarded for 5 times or more. For these particular messages, users are barred from re-forwarding them with multiple lists of recipients.

Instead, they may only forward them one by one to their contacts list. This is the attempt of WhatsApp to provide more friction for users to not mindlessly contribute to chain messaging.

In their own blog space, WhatsApp said:

“Is all forwarding bad? Certainly not. We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful.”

It added:

“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.”

$1million Coronavirus Information Hub

To emphasize the seriousness of the fight against fake news, WhatsApp donated $1million to establish a native information hub.

This was made in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

With these powerful organizations combining efforts, WhatsApp hopes that the misinformation is drowned by the proper dissemination of factual news, especially about the virus.

Facebook and Messenger Joins the Lockdown

WhatsApp’s sister companies, Facebook and Messenger, are also being utilized as information hubs during this pandemic.

Zuckerberg admitted that the control of the information drive during this time is much easier. This is compared to when it was during the political campaigns that got them in hot water.

He claimed that the policies needed to be placed during this time are more “black and white.” One such policy is the banning of ads that involve selling face masks.

Other policies include banning posts that promote hoax cures for the virus and false testing methods for the virus.

Messenger, on the other hand, has also made its own information hub. In these hubs, users can access a treasure trove of government-provided information and facts about the control of the virus.

Images used courtesy of Anton/Pexels, Tracy Le Blanc/Pexels

Steven Hung

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Steven Hung

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