Just like back in the day when forwarded emails containing funny photos, videos, “health tips”, and “warnings” were making their rounds, the same seems to be happening with WhatsApp where people are passing along information they receive from others without necessarily considering this information is accurate.
This has resulted in the spread of misinformation, better known as fake news, which can cause undue panic in some situations. WhatsApp attempted to handle this back in July, limiting the number of messages that can be forwarded. The initial test was focused on a small group, but now it looks like the company has decided to roll out the feature to all of its users.
Prior to this, users were able to share forward messages to groups or individual chats of up to 20. The new limit that is being imposed will drastically reduce that number down to just 5, which still has the potential to grow and spread, but at a slower rate. This reduction might not necessarily be useful when WhatsApp chat groups can have up to 256 users in them, which means that if all these users were to forward messages of up to five chats each, it could get around pretty fast.
In addition to limiting message forwarding, WhatsApp had previously started to label messages that have been forwarded. This would help users identify messages that come from other sources so that they can better judge if it may or may not contain genuine information.
Now that WhatsApp has introduced its solution to keep fake news from spreading too quickly, we’re hoping the Facebook Messenger team has a solution from keeping our well’intentioned friends from flooding our inbox with misinformation on a daily basis.