WhatsApp announced this Tuesday about new limitations to forwarded messages in the wake of fast-spreading false information regarding Coronavirus through various mediums and platforms including private messaging apps.
The world is not only battling Coronavirus which is spreading like wildfire across the world but also the circulation of false information. These are dangerous times and any misleading information regarding COVID-19 is likely to do more harm than good.
Among the many messaging platforms that are being used by the masses to spread false knowledge among their contacts, is WhatsApp. These platforms have come under heavy scrutiny. And to curb this issue of fake news sharing, WhatsApp placed limitations on its ‘forwarding’ feature.
You Can Only Forward the Message to One Person
This more of a precaution than an update came after WhatsApp experienced a surge in forwarded messages containing information about Coronavirus; much of it was false and highly misleading.
However, this update doesn’t apply to every message, but on those that have been forwarded to multiple people; in other words ‘highly forwarded’. Sources say that any message that has been forwarded by 5 users or more will be placed under limitation. Moreover, it can only be forwarded to one contact only.
Previously, a single message could be sent collectively to as many as 256 people. Over time, the number decreased and limitations increased. Similarly, with end-to-end encryption in WhatsApp, it became difficult to track down the users spreading hateful speech and corrupt messages leading to anarchy or violence. A mob violence case in India is a great example of how WhatsApp was used to further the agenda.
Nonetheless, the top messaging app addressed the positives that have come out of WhatsApp and its forwarded message feature during these tough times. From forwarding of “helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful ” to ” organize public moments of support for frontline health workers “
WHO health Alert
However, this still didn’t diminish the huge spike in the sharing of false Coronavirus information; placing misuse of WhatsApp under fire in the past and present. Now with limitations of forwarded messages in place, WhatsApp introduced an alert feature courtesy of the World Health Organization. According to this WHO Health Alert, users have access to authenticated and factual information.
WhatsApp caters to more than 10 million people, which makes it a perfect tool for mass false agendas. The messaging platform understands the consequences of false information sharing and has taken credible steps. The app has much in store for its users regarding new features. As the rumors suggested of the upcoming build to support self disappearing messages feature. WhatsApp’s dark mode arrived late. Now everyone anticipates the self-destructing message feature.
At the end of the day, it is our duty as responsible beings to fact-check the information; instead of mindlessly forwarding it to our loved ones. You could potentially place someone in danger for trusting you with the forwarded information regarding a pandemic that is still under research. We as a software development company can do our part and you, yours.