WhatsApp Imposes New Limit on Bulk Message Forwarding to Slow Spread of Misinformation

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WhatsApp today implemented new restrictions on the mass forwarding of messages in an effort to slow the spread of misinformation on the chat platform.

The new limits on bulk forwarding mean if a user receives a message that has been forwarded more than five times, they will only be able to send it on to a single chat at a time. The previous limit was five chats at once, which WhatsApp introduced last year.

Obviously the restriction doesn't completely prevent mass forwarding, but anyone wanting to do so now has to put a lot more repetitive manual effort into it.

The move comes after several hoaxes went viral on the platform, including false stories about the current global pandemic one of which linked the outbreak to the rollout of 5G networks. At least 20 mobile phone masts across the U.K. are believed to have been set on fire or vandalized as a result of the baseless theory.

"We've seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation," said WhatsApp in a blog post. "We believe it's important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation."

WhatsApp is also testing a feature that displays a small magnifying glass icon next to bulk forwarded messages. If users tap the icon they are sent to a web search for the message, with the intention that they'll be able to find articles that provide more information about the message or debunk it.

Top Rated Comments

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24 weeks ago


I thought we were supposed to live in a “free” society

Yes you live in a free society where you can choose which service you want. You are not being forced to use Whatsapp, and if their new rules are not for you you can freely move to another platform.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 weeks ago


Problem is that there’s not many real alternatives and I feel as if the world is turning into a communist poop hole. Where freedoms of speech doesn’t exist

Freedom of speech means the government can't stop you from saying what you want, short of inciting actual violence.

Freedom of speech doesn't mean that I am legally obliged to sell you a megaphone.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 weeks ago


This has got the be the stupidest thing I’ve heard all year. So Instead of it taking 5 minutes to spam it will take 10 minutes. Bravo WhatsApp.

Don't underestimate the sheer laziness of the average Joe or Jane - and especially the kind of person who believes that 5G is the cause of covid. Small barriers can have a big effect.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 weeks ago


What if people want to spread info that is true?

Then I'd imagine that information would already be being spread by more credible sources. Too many people these days seem to turn to social media as their primary source of information rather than official or credible channels. Whilst the latter certainly aren't perfect, they're better than people's misinformed opinion being spread as fact or "My uncle's a doctor and told me that..."


Freedom of speech means the government can't stop you from saying what you want, short of inciting actual violence.

Freedom of speech doesn't mean that I am legally obliged to sell you a megaphone.

Yeah, I always find it amusing that the people who make the most noise about specific rights are the ones who least understand what those rights actually mean.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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24 weeks ago
Its so nice when corporations get to decide what and how people communicate
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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24 weeks ago


Does anyone still use WhatsApp? According to storage in settings haven't opened the app in 6 mo. All my friends have migrated away from it. Keeping it install just in case there's a few stragglers.

It has 1.5 billion active users. So yes people still use it.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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