Looks like Nigerian parents can no longer forward ridiculous broadcast messages on Whatsapp as the platform has introduced a new limit to the number of messages a person can forward. This restriction was made in a bid to reduce the rapid spread of coronavirus misinformation. The new limits are WhatsApp’s strictest yet.
The chat app has been gradually tightening the restrictions on its forwarding function, where a user can easily choose multiple groups or people to receive the message. Two years ago, a user could pass on a forwarded message to 250 groups at once, with each group capable of hosting hundreds of users.
By last year, the company had reduced that limit to five groups at a time. Now it’s one, although a user could theoretically still forward the same message to individuals or groups one by one.
WhatsApp hopes the change will help to curb the spread of misinformation amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Last year we introduced users to the concept of messages that have been forwarded many times. These messages are labeled with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from a close contact. In effect, these messages are less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp. We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time. 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 personal conversation.”
WhatsApp has taken other steps in the light of the coronavirus pandemic to fight misinformation, such as donating money to fact-checking organizations, some of which run accounts people can send messages to.
The platform is also working on a new feature that would allow users to take a message they’ve received and quickly search the web to check its content. In screenshots shared with TechCrunch last month, a magnifying glass appears next to a message, which would take the user to a related Google search.