On April 7, online messaging app, WhatsApp began a new restriction on the number of contacts a user is permitted to forward a message to at once. This is only a slight change from what it has been for a few months now – where message forwards can only be done for five contacts at a time.
This is coming at a time where misinformation is increasing and can have dire implications. According to a blog post announcement, it is expected to further reduce the statistics of misinformation on the social media platform.
This is a modification to a similar restriction which was first rolled out in India, its largest market, in July 2019 – triggered by multiple deaths believed to have resulted from a viral circulation of false news – and is considered to have since yielded a 25% decrease is misinformation.
“We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time.”
However, at press time, this feature which is supposed to be rolled out worldwide today is yet to be confirmed on updated versions of the app on both Android and iOS. It is hoped that when it is eventually implemented, a user would only be allowed to forward a message to one contact at a time after the first five attempts.
While forwarding a message is not a wrong thing to do, the Facebook-owned messaging platform has been devising ways to make the platform truly private and safe for its over 2 billion users worldwide, given the speed with which messages could be spread through it.
What this means is, although the spread to false news would be largely limited, legitimate use of the “forward message” feature is not totally affected. Besides, the broadcast option is likewise available to users using the platform to promote their services and products.
Along with this are other integrations allowed into the app to help subscribers have access to real-time reliable intelligence concerning COVID-19. One of them is the WHO chatbot. More features are to be anticipated in the wake of a global pandemic.