WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned instant messaging platform, announced on Friday that it will limit the use of forwarded messages up to five chats in an effort to check the spread of fake news and rumours in its platform.
“Today, we’re launching a test to limit forwarding that will apply to everyone using WhatsApp. 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,” WhatsApp said in a statement.
WhatsApp hopes limiting the rate of forwarded messages will slow down the viral impact that social networks have become known for.
“We believe that these changes – which we’ll continue to evaluate – will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: A private messaging app,” the statement added.
WhatsApp had already started labelling all forwarded messages as ‘Forwarded’, to help users identify messages which are not original and have been forwarded.
The Indian government had on Thursday warned WhatsApp asking it to come up with more effective solutions that can bring in “accountability and facilitate enforcement of law” in the wake of rising incidents of rumours on WhatsApp triggering lynching incidents in the country.
Ministry of electronics and IT (MEITY), in its statement said “there is a need for bringing in traceability and accountability when a provocative or inflammatory message is detected”.
“Rampant circulation of irresponsible messages in large volumes on their platform have not been addressed adequately by WhatsApp,” the ministry said.
The ministry added that if WhatsApp remain mute spectators, they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action.