WhatsApp, the Facebook owned company, is stepping up the battle against fake news with a big change that’ll affect anyone that uses the messaging app as it limits people’s ability to forward messages to large groups.
The idea is that, in theory, it will make it harder for things to “go viral” and will stop the spread of sensationalised fake news.
Although this new strategy is going global, WhatsApp is taking things even further in India. “In India – where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world – we’ll also test a lower limit of 5 chats at once and we’ll remove the quick forward button next to media messages.” the company confirmed .
In the rest of the world, users will only be able to forward messages on to 20 people. The previous limit was 250.
WhatsApp has confirmed that the new change is in response to the spread of fake news and in some cases resulting violence in places like India and Myanmar.
“We’re horrified by the violence in India, and we’ve announced a number of different product changes to help address these issues,” a representative from WhatsApp told Recode .
“It’s a challenge which requires an action by civil society, government and tech companies.” The decision by WhatsApp is a likely a trickle-down from parent company Facebook , which has repeatedly been hit with criticism for its role in the dissemination of fake news.
One of the most serious instances was the perpetuation of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. Facebook has been used to spread propaganda against the Rohingya people that has led to killings.