The operators of the instant messaging application, WhatsApp, have announced the decision to reduce the number of chats one can forward messages to at a time.
The development which was disclosed on its blog on Tuesday was borne out of several fake news and hoaxes shared in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recall that 1.3 million COVID-19 cases have recorded across the globe.
“With billions of people unable to see their friends and family in person due to COVID-19, people are relying on WhatsApp more than ever to communicate.
“People are talking to doctors, teachers, and isolated loved ones via WhatsApp during this crisis. That’s why all your messages and calls on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted by default to give you a secure place for your most personal conversations,” it noted.
WhatsApp explained that last year, it introduced users to the concept of labelling forwarded messages with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from close contact.
“We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time,” the statement read.”
“As a private messaging service, we’ve taken several steps over the years to help keep conversations intimate. For example, we previously set limits on forwarded messages to constrain virality, which led to a 25% decrease in message forwards globally at the time.
“We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers.
“However, 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. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for a personal conversation.”
Accordingly, it was stated that 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. You can learn more about these efforts, as well as how to submit potential myths, hoaxes and rumors to fact-checking organizations, on our Coronavirus Information Hub,” it said.
It should be noted that POLITICS NIGERIA, in its support for accountability media, has been fact-checking several claims spread across during the pandemic.