WhatsApp Limits Message Forwarding to Cut Down on Hoaxes and Misinformation

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WhatsApp says it is limiting the ability to forward messages to multiple chats at once in an attempt to reduce the spread of spam and misinformation.

The news follows WhatsApp's recent decision to add labels that indicate to users that a message has been forwarded.

The change was announced by the company in a blog post that specifically mentions India, where the spreading of fake messages over the chat platform has reportedly incited lynchings.

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.

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.

WhatsApp's wording suggests the limit is a test, however a spokesperson told Recode that the company was "horrified" by the violence in India, and that it had announced several changes to help address the issues.

On Thursday, the BBC reported on one incident in India that left one man dead and two others severely injured after false rumors went viral on WhatsApp that they had tried to abduct children. It's the latest in a series of viral message-related crimes in the country that has resulted in 12 dead over the last month.

(Via TechCrunch.)

Top Rated Comments

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29 months ago

Hmmmmm.....guess what, it's *the Indian people which are the problem, and nearly
no-one tries to do something about it.
You have to start changing peoples mindset.
And yes, I have been to India, I like the country overall but it has it's oddities.

* most

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately this is not a problem exclusive to India. It's a nearly universal problem, and as old as the concept of society itself. Remember why the Greeks created their democracy and then abandoned it after about five minutes... sheep herders out in them thar hills are too disconnected from, uninterested in, and misinformed about the minutea of Athenian society to form an educated opinion & valuable input. Similarly, the slaves and women had no vested interest to ensure they would take their vote seriously either. And viola, aristocracy. The quality of a vote is only as good as the quality of your societies ability to understand what it's voting on, and that hinges on free and open communications, educating and involving all the people. Compounded by the problem that the most sensational & least rigorous ideas spread fastest & farthest, and you start to see why there's been a total lack of progress on the problem in about 2500 years, with predictable results. To connect the people solves that isolation & detachment, but comes at a cost of enabling the most sensational, poor ideas to spread that much more efficiently. Since the world doesn't have the patience to ensure the quality of their information stream like a Scientific Journal, restricting the generational lifespan of forwarding vectors is an interesting way to combat the problem from the other direction. While no one on earth has ever successfully managed to restrict the spread of information for long without catastrophic results, perhaps this can be implemented in such a way as to ensure that the game of telephone keeps close to the actual source, and the source is held to light & accountable. Could go a few directions. Interesting.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago
“A private messaging app” —- lol
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago

Hmmmmm.....guess what, it's *the Indian people which are the problem, and nearly
no-one tries to do something about it.
You have to start changing peoples mindset.
And yes, I have been to India, I like the country overall but it has it's oddities.

* most

Yes, that dude who tried to shoot up the pizzeria in the USA which had been reported as being a Clinton front for pedophilia was Indian.

It’s obviously just an Indian problem.

(For those in any doubt, yes, add a large sprinkle of sarcasm).
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago
WhatsApp seems ok, but I'm with Jan Koum, the founder and now ex-CEO. If he's upset about it, that's a bad sign.
[doublepost=1532126484][/doublepost]

its end-to-end encryption messages=private. whats your point?

End to end encryption doesn't guarantee privacy from the consumer's point of view, but it's still a good thing and deserves some trust. The corp running the servers does it to make it easier to avoid screwups.

A couple of ways such an app can still not be private: The client reporting additional metrics to the server, e.g. for ads (FB does this). Or, less likely but still possible, the server lying about clients' public keys to intercept and decrypt messages then re-encrypt them.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
29 months ago

its end-to-end encryption messages=private. whats your point?

Mark Zuckerberg owns it, that’s the problem.. zero trust in him.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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