As private message apps have been used to spread misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic, WhatsApp on Tuesday said it would place new limits on the forwarding of messages.
Last year WhatsApp introduced users to the concept of messages that have been forwarded many times. These messages are labeled with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from a close contact. In effect, these messages are less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp. WhatsApp is now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time.
Although all forwarding isn't bad, WhatsApp says it has seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told the company can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. "We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation," WhatsApp said.
In addition to this change, WhatsApp is working directly with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information. Together these trusted authorities have sent hundreds of millions of messages directly to people requesting information and advice.