Facebook-owned WhatsApp which earlier thin month introduced a limit on frequently forwarded messages to one chat at a time has seen a massive 70 percent drop in such posts being shared or going viral globally, the micro-blogging platform informed on Monday. With billions of people unable to see their friends and family in person due to COVID-19 social distancing in place, people are relying on WhatsApp more than ever to communicate and in such a scenario, the probability of misinformation or wrong health facts going viral is high.
"WhatsApp is committed to doing our part to tackle viral messages. Since putting into place this new limit, globally there has been a 70 percent reduction in the number of highly forwarded messages sent on WhatsApp," a company spokesperson said in a statement shared with IANS. "This change is helping keep WhatsApp a place for personal and private conversations," the spokesperson added.
In a bid to curb the flow of misinformation in COVID-19 times, Facebook-owned WhatsApp on April 7 announced to introduce a new limit on frequently forwarding messages where a WhatsApp user can forward such messages to one chat at a time. This limit kicks in once a message has been previously forwarded five times or more.
WhatsApp which has over 400 million users in India last year introduced users to the concept of messages that have been forwarded many times. These messages are labeled with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from close contact. WhatsApp introduced a limit to forwarding to 5 contacts in July 2018 and the move reduced the total number of forwards to 25 percent.
The company said it bans two million accounts per month for attempting to send bulk or automated messages. WhatsApp is working with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information. It has also announced the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub.