WhatsApp is one of the most used social media platforms where people get the chance to connect to their loved ones, friends, and family via messages, audio or video call. WhatsApp is used by millions of users can also be a platform to spread misinformation, and rumor related to the coronavirus pandemic. People are already doomed wearing Coronavirus Mask every day and every time they go outside to protect their life and life of their loved ones. But still many people still spreading fake news and wrong information that can cause panic. Hence to stop this, today, WhatsApp said that forwarded messages will now come with new limits. The messages that have been identified as “highly forwarded” and sent through a chain of five or more people can now only be forwarded to a single person. The idea behind this step is to reduce the speed with which information spreads through WhatsApp.
According to one of the companies which are part of Facebook, “ WhatsApp is the platform where users share and forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. Since the pandemic being declared, people have used this social media platform to organize public moments for the support of frontline health workers.”
However, in general, it was noticed that there is a significant increase in the amount of forwarding of the messages. To those messages, the users can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of the misinformation. Furthermore, it is important to slow the speed of these messages down in order to keep WhatsApp a platform for a personal conversation. And, hence, Popular WhatsApp messages can now be forwarded to a single person. Earlier the count was 5 and now it has decreased to 1.
Speaking of some factual data, earlier it was easy for users to forward a single message to as many as 256 people with just a few taps. But initially, these messages were not marked/labeled as forward, and the end-to-end encryption used in the application made it almost impossible for authorities to determine who might be using the app to rumor, hate speech or calls to riotous. This feature triggered a crisis in India, where WhatsApp was linked to mob violence. Post that, in 2018, WhatsApp came with an update where the forwarded messages were labeled and also the company declared that a single message can be forwarded maximum to 5 people.
Now, in 2020, WhatsApp has come under the spotlight that it can be used as a platform to spread fear and misinformation among people. Most of the organizations like the CNN found that for over a month, WhatsApp was used as a platform to share a variety of false information about “cures” for COVID-19 and mocks about military activity related to the pandemic being declared and about the disease. Moreover, the prime minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, requested people to stop sharing unverified information on WhatsApp groups. To this, WhatsApp encouraged a bot made by the WHO that provides information and other precautionary measures related to the COVID-19. WhatsApp has even donated$1 million to the International Fact-Checking Network and it has restricted the number of people to whom a single message can be forwarded. Great Steps, Indeed!