WhatsApp has been putting curbs on message forwarding since the past two years
Instant messaging platform WhatsApp said in a blog post on Tuesday that it was constraining message forwarding in a bid to tackle misinformation during the coronavirus outbreak.
The COVID-19 pandemic — that has killed over 75,000 people worldwide— has been termed as an "infodemic of misinformation" by the World Health Organization (WHO) after which social media platforms have ramped up efforts in to tackle the problem.
"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[...] We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time," a statement from the mobile app's representative read.
There has been 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 the statement.
"We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation," it read.
WhatsApp has been putting curbs on message forwarding for the past two years.
Users have been able to forward a message to only five contacts at once since last year, from an earlier limit of 20.
The messages are forwarded from one user to another user more than five times, are indicated with the arrow icon, to ensure that it does not originate from a close contact.
Referring to limiting forward messages, WhatsApp said that it led to a 25% decrease in message forwards globally at the time.
"We are working directly with NGOs and governments, including the WHO 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," it added.