WhatsApp limits the forwarding of messages in the fight against fake news
As of today, you can only forward ‘often shared’ messages on WhatsApp to one person at a time. According to the message service, this adjustment will be made to prevent the spread of fake news. It is still possible to forward such messages to several people, but that will take a bit more work.
Since last year, WhatsApp has indicated “frequently forwarded” messages with an icon of double arrows. These are messages that were shared with five or more chat conversations, according to the WhatsApp FAQ.
It is also those kinds of messages that are now subject to an additional restriction: you can only share them with one person at a time. So if you want to share the information in several conversations, you will have to do this manually. This should ensure that people are less likely to forward chain messages.
“Are all forwarded messages bad? Of course not,” explains WhatsApp in a blog post. “However, we have also seen a significant increase in the number of forwarded messages that can overwhelm users and help spread disinformation.”
In recent weeks, several messages with fake news about the coronavirus have circulated on WhatsApp, such as the warning that the virus would spread quickly through the handle of the gas pump.
To be clear: the restriction only applies to chain messages. Of course, you can still forward personal messages (read: messages that you wrote yourself and that were not shared more than five times) to several contacts at the same time.
WhatsApp has been offensive against fake news for some time: last month, the messaging service announced that users could now talk to a chatbot from the World Health Organization (WHO). This chatbot offers bite-sized information, such as an overview of common myths surrounding Covid-19.