WhatsApp users will not be in a position to send the same message more than five times in new measure to curb dissemination of fake news on the platform. The messaging platform limited text forwarding from 256 recipients to 20 recipients in July 2018 and first tested it out in India after a series of mob attacks and killings in India, set off by the spread of false information about child kidnappings.
Besides influencing election and campaigns, WhatsApp has been blamed for fueling post-election violence and ethnic clashes through the spread of fake news. The new measure might be a step by the Facebook-owned messenger but the rule does not hinder individuals from floating messages in groups compromising nearly 1300 people.
“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, the Facebook-owned company said in an emailed statement. “We’ll continue to listen to user feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content.”
Whatsapp is caught in between adhering to government rules and protecting its users. Most government agencies are afraid preventing users from sending messages across the platform is almost impossible since it uses end to end encryption for its messages.
Requests by government agencies to implement “backdoors” in its encryption technology giving access to law enforcement agencies to tackle crimes and violence have been futile.