New Delhi: Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp messaging service on Friday launched a test to limit forwarded messages in a move aimed at curbing the spread of rumours on its platform. WhatsApp users in India will not be able to forward messages to more than five chats at once instead of multiple chats at once. Also, the media giant will disable the quick forward button next to media messages.
“We believe that these changes – which we’ll continue to evaluate – will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app," said WhatsApp in a statement.
“We are deeply committed to your safety and privacy which is why WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, and we’ll continue to improve our app with features like this one," it added.
The move comes within hours of the government directing the social media giant to come out with more effective solutions that can bring in accountability and facilitate law enforcement in addition to their efforts towards labelling forwards and identifying fake news.
The government’s direction comes in the wake of a spate of incidents of lynching in the country connected to fake messages on social media that have mainly spread through WhatsApp.
A spate of murders over the last month have been reported from several states, including Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tripura, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
On 3 July, the IT ministry directed WhatsApp to take appropriate measures to curtail the spread of fake and provocative messages through its platform.
In less than a week, the social media giant rolled out a new feature that would clearly mark forwarded messages in a move aimed at curbing the spread of rumours.