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WhatsApp is Limiting Message Forwarding to Combat Coronavirus Misinformation


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WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is implementing new limits on message forwarding, amid growing concerns the service is being used to spread misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Alfredo Rivera/Pixabay

The news: WhatsApp has said it will implement new limits on message forwarding amid growing concerns that it is being used to spread misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. From today, messages identified as "highly forwarded" can be forwarded to only a single person as opposed to five, the company, which is owned by Facebook, said in a blog post. The idea is to slow the spread of viral information, giving truth a chance to catch up with falsehoods. WhatsApp is private and end-to-end encrypted, which is a boon for security but makes it a particularly potent breeding ground for misinformation, as there's no way to see the content of messages.

Why now? WhatsApp has been used to share false content around the world for years, but concern about the issue has reached a peak during the coronavirus crisis. WhatsApp said it has 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." And there are lots of reports of people sharing rumors, fake "cures" for coronavirus (none exist), and conspiracy theories on the app.

 

From MIT Technology Review
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