The WhatsApp messaging service said Tuesday that it is limiting the use of features that allow users to forward messages, a significant change to popular features that have also been used to spread misinformation and bad medical advice about coronavirus.
Facebook’s smartphone application said at a blog post that once a message has been forwarded from one user to another more than five times, anyone who receives the message will be able to send it to only one person or group chat.
The change will help “keep the conversation close,” WhatsApp said blog post.
“Is all the forwarding bad? Of course not, “he said, citing funny memes and efforts to organize public support for health workers as a positive use of forwarding.
The company said, however, that “it has seen a significant increase in the number of forwardes that users say to us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the dissemination of misinformation. We believe it is important to slow down the spread of these messages so that WhatsApp remains a place for private conversation. “
This is another sign that Facebook and technology companies more broadly are taking unusual steps to try to get rid of false information during the global coronavirus pandemic, a sharp difference from the position they once held that they are platform neutral which does not care about the scale of public debate.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging services in the world with more than 2 billion users.
The long chain of messages that have been passed has been a concern for years on WhatsApp and similar services, as well as on traditional e-mail, when people send sometimes fake tricks and other information to their entire contact list.
Experts call it a “telephone game” literal where people had warned, erroneously, that martial law would soon be imposed, a rumor that spread widely last month and caused opposition from the National Security Council.
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