WhatsApp to limit message forwarding to curb fake news in India

WhatsApp to limit message forwarding to curb fake news in India. WhatsApp has said it will limit the use of forwarded messages to up to five chats in a bid to curb the spread of misinformation and fake news in India, its largest markets. 

WhatsApp has rolled the latest software update on iOS devices. The new update restricts the iPhone users from forwarding a particular message to more than five people. The update was first announced by the messaging platform back in July 2018.

The update, with version 2.18.81, also removes the quick forwarding shortcut that previously appeared beside media messages on iPhone.

WhatsApp to limit message forwarding

WhatsApp to limit message forwarding to curb fake news in India

WhatsApp to limit message forwarding to curb fake news in India. Up until now, you could forward a message to multiple chats at once. Now, with the new changes, WhatsApp will limit messaging forward in India. The move comes after a notice which was sent by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY).

WhatsApp to limit message forwarding, the plan will limit the number of chats that users can send forward to five in the country. It will also remove the ‘quick forward’ tab next to the media messages. However, globally, WhatsApp will limit the number of forwards to a maximum of 20 groups.

WhatsApp also said that it would be doing away with the quick forward option which sits next to the media on WhatsApp chats and allows the users to quickly forward a media to their contacts. Users who wish to see these updates on their iPhones can download the latest version 2.18.81 from iTunes.

Indians forward more messages, photos, and videos on WhatsApp than people of any other country. But the app now plans to bring in some restrictions on these to curb the menace of fake and provocative messages.

Why has WhatsApp taken this hard step?

Whatsapp, which had added a feature to let people forward a message to multiple chats at once a few years ago, had earlier this month launched a ‘forward label’ to identify messages which are not original and have been forwarded.

The messaging service had said it was giving users controls and information to help them stay safe, and that it planned to run long-term public safety advertising campaigns. So far this year, false messages about child abductors on WhatsApp have triggered mass beatings of more than a dozen people in India and some of whom have died.

More than 20 people have been killed by mobs in the past two months across the country after being accused of child kidnapping and other crimes in viral messages circulated on WhatsApp.

Fake videos and rumours of child-lifting circulated via WhatsApp have triggered lynchings in at least eight states.

Rumours on WhatsApp have sparked off a spate of incidents involving mob fury, including one where five men were lynched on the suspicion of being child lifters in Maharashtra’s Rainpada village of Dhule district. More recently, a man was beaten to death, while three others were injured after a mob attacked them suspecting them to be child-lifters, near Bidar in Karnataka.

What Government warned WhatsApp?

Recently, the government in a strongly worded had expressed displeasure at what Whatsapp was doing to curb the menace and asked for “more effective solutions” that can bring in “accountability and facilitate enforcement of law” as well as bring in “traceability and accountability when a provocative or inflammatory message is detected.”

WhatsApp has over one billion users globally, of which over 200 million are in India. WhatsApp has received flak from the Indian government over the fake news and false information being circulated on its messaging platform. Such messages have incited mob-fury, triggering multiple cases of lynching across the country.

The government also warned the company that mediums used for propagation of rumours are liable to be treated as ‘abettors’ and can face legal consequences if they remain “mute spectators”.

Notably

These features are now available on the stable version of WhatsApp for iOS after days of testing. Users can update WhatsApp from the Apple App Store.

The company believes that these changes will surely make the private messaging app more secure and safe also with this move, WhatsApp hopes to control the spread of fake news in India.

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