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WhatsApp limits message sharing for all to tackle fake news

WhatsApp's forward limits won't completely stop the spread of hoax messages, but it's a solid start.

Published onJanuary 21, 2019

A screenshot of the WhatsApp forward limit in action.

WhatsApp is one of the world’s top communication tools, but its popularity also means hoaxes and rumors spread like wildfire. Fortunately, the company has decided to take action and has brought its forwarding restrictions to users around the globe.

According to an emailed press release, users can now only forward messages to five contacts or groups at once. Sure, this doesn’t exactly stop hoaxes and other false information from being spread via the app, but it does slow the process down in theory. The functionality first appeared in India after people were reportedly killed by mobs in connection with hoax WhatsApp messages.

“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,” read an excerpt of the release.

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WhatsApp by Facebook stock photo 3

The Facebook-owned company notes that it’ll “look for new ways” to address viral content. After all, there’s a big difference between sharing a hoax news link and a funny cat video. Nevertheless, it’s a small sacrifice to make when hoax messages have led to people literally dying.

WhatsApp has also implemented several other measures in order to curb the spread of hoax messages. These measures include more prominent labels for forwarded messages, and the option to only let administrators post messages in a group.

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