WhatsApp Claims A Reduction Of 70% In The Spread Of Viral Messages Since It Limited The Forwarding Of A Message To Only One Contact

  • TechCrunch reports a reduction of 70 percent in the spread of viral messages on WhatsApp since the company applied new forwarding limits.
  • WhatsApp applied the new forwarding limits due to the spread of the coronavirus misinformation across its platform and the impact of WhatsApp’s new forwarding limits.
  • WhatsApp faced intense scrutiny on its role in spreading misinformation, and it has been making changes in its services to slow down the spread of misinformation across its platform.

A latest report by TechCrunch revealed that the spread of ‘highly forwarded’ messages across WhatsApp had been reduced by 70 percent since the company applied new forwarding limits for highly forwarded messages. WhatsApp announced the new measures at the beginning of April. The company took the initiative in response to the spread of the COVID-19 misinformation across WhatsApp’s platform.

WhatsApp announced to limit the forwarding of a message to only one person if five or more WhatsApp users have already forwarded that message. The report by TechCrunch proves that WhatsApp’s new forwarding limit policy has been successful in reducing the spread of viral content.

But, users still have the option to manually forward a message to as many people and groups as they want to. It’s still impossible to determine how many of these messages contained misinformation WhatsApp is trying to stop from spreading. These forward messages may also contain helpful advice or useful information or maybe harmless memes or entertainment content such as funny images and videos.

WhatsApp had to face intense scrutiny on the role of its platform in helping the spread of misinformation amid the coronavirus pandemic. A WhatsApp group can accommodate up to 256 participants, which means that forwarded content can spread to a large number of people in no time. Various news publishers reported last month that WhatsApp was used to spread fake coronavirus cures. Meanwhile, the Indian government has also asked WhatsApp and other social media platforms to implement new policies to slow down the spread of misinformation across their respective platforms.

WhatsApp, while announcing the new measures, stated that the company had seen a significant rise in the number of forwarded messages, which, according to the users, may help spread misinformation across the platform. The company also said that they believe it’s vital to slow down the spread of these forwarded messages so that WhatsApp continues to be a place for personal discussion and communication.

It isn’t the first time Whatsapp has made changes to slow down the spread of misinformation across its platform. WhatsApp started to label viral messages as ‘forwarded’ back in 2018 to let people know that the user they received information from might not be from the original sender of that message. Last year, WhatsApp also limited the forwarding of a message to five users at a time. The company, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, also released a search feature and promoted the use of a bot service providing factual information related to the coronavirus pandemic.

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