The Facebook-owned chat app seeks to slow down the dissemination of fake news by putting restrictions on the limit of messages forwarded on WhatsApp. this step has been taken to ease down the flow of rumors through WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is one of the most downloaded messaging apps in the world. It is used by a large number of people to connect with each other by writing messages to them or by calling and by video calling. But there are many instances in the past time which have shown the bad side of this chatting app as people used it to put hatred in the society by putting up some fake messages on it. These messages were then forwarded by many users to their contacts and make that message a “viral message,” which can be informational as well as can have misinformation.
Now, WhatsApp has come up with a new limit which is one-fifth of the previous limit. That means a user can send a viral message to a single chat at a time which was earlier limited to five chats at a time, imposed in 2019. This ban thus does not completely prevent widespread forwarding as ultimately the message can be passed or forwarded on however many times a user is willing to hit that forward button, turn by turn. And it even fails when it comes to the story feature of WhatsApp as there are users who put screenshots of viral messages in their stories which further makes their job easier by spreading the message to all the contacts at once. These things still make this move skeptical about its efficiency.
But, by putting this curb on the limit of messages in WhatsApp the company is hoping to slow down some of the most viral messages on its platform. There are widespread messages currently like false news about the relation of coronavirus with 5G technology. This claim has further led to the vandalization of more than 20 phone masts in the past week.
One of the spokespeople has given the statement on this step taken by the company and has stated that the company took this step after seeing a significant increase in the amount of forwarding, reported by users as can feel overwhelming and can cause the spread of misinformation in the society. He added that the company wants to slow down these fake messages spread and wants to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation only.
The messaging app also lacks in some strategies which Facebook and Twitter already have, which is to take down the harmful content from their platforms. WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption because of which the company cannot see the contents of messages sent by the user on its platform, which further prevents it to make changes to its moderation strategies.
At the same time company also argue that not all the forwarded messages are harmful a there are some useful messages are also being circulated. They said that during this Tim of corona pandemic many users have the ease to connect with one other by creating groups. The employees working from home are at ease to make certain announcements, and to provide material or information to their colleagues. This proves that the platform is being widely used by everyone during this crucial time.
But the other fact cannot be ignored as well that is, people are spreading rumors about the treatments of Coronavirus and these kinds of messages were being forwarded at a large number. This affects the mentality of the users and they sometimes try these things. The other thing is that many hatred messages are also being spread out which makes grudges in the community. Several videos are also being forwarded with false pieces of information and affect the total outlook.
Therefore, to put a barrier on this the company took this major step with a target to reduce the spread of misinformation in the public.