Limit on WhatsApp Forward Message Option to Reduce Misinformation

WhatsApp is currently one of the most popular messaging apps all over the world and people use it to deliver messages, voice notes, videos, contacts, documents and pictures to each other for free. Facebook acquired WhatsApp for a massive $19 billion mainly because they analyzed WhatsApp to be a messenger that is not declining any time soon. However, there was something going wrong with the private messaging app that created violence in India and WhatsApp was forced to impose a limit on forwarding messages.

People started using WhatsApp to forward several messages, with most of them consisting of rumors and false reports from non-credible sources, to hundreds of groups. This led to the spread of false information creating hatred and chaos among people. For example, some users started spreading false news about child abduction through WhatsApp due to which a tech worker in Southern India was killed by a mob who thought he was the kidnapper, all because of the false news that went viral on WhatsApp.

As WhatsApp took notice of these incidents, it is immediately trying to make WhatsApp a “private” messaging app again by imposing limits on the number of group chats to which a message could be forwarded. The limit is said to be 20 groups at once globally but only five groups in India because of the largest number of users in that region. WhatsApp believes that this restriction will help them reduce, if not eliminate, such incidents. At least 17 similar deaths have been reported due to a false news spreading through WhatsApp and this is the most that WhatsApp can currently do.

Nevertheless, keeping in mind that this limit is not sufficient, Facebook and WhatsApp are planning to launch a news verification system that will help users identify if the news forwarded is authentic or not. The firms are already in talks with the Election Commission of India but there is no said date as to when this will be introduced. Users should take some responsibility and verify the news before reacting because rumors can cost innocent lives.