WhatsApp to stop Indian users from bulk forwarding messages

WhatsApp limits message forwarding to fight the spread of fake news

In a recent blog post, WhatsApp shed light on its plans to implement tight restrictions on message forwarding for all of its users, and even tighter restrictions for its users in India.

The company also said it would be removing the "quick forward button" next to messages containing pictures or video.

In the last few months, we have seen how fake messages circulated on Whatsapp creates panic, and innocent people are being lynched by blinded mobs, believing everything they read on Whatsapp.

Under pressure from Prime Minister Narendra Modi´s government, the firm had already announced new features to help users identify messages that have been forwarded.

The announcement by the Facebook-owned messaging App comes weeks after the Indian authorities sought curbs on spread of rumours that have led to violent incidents in the country. "Today, we're launching a test to limit forwarding on WhatsApp".

WhatsApp developed a collective fact-checking exercise called "Verificado model" during the Mexican general elections, which will be brought to India.

Just like every other popular social networking, instant messaging, or news aggregation platform under the sun, WhatsApp has been having trouble keeping the spread of misinformation in check.


For the global version of the application, the company will limit the number of forwards to 20 other groups.

"How they explained it to us in a presentation is that if a person wanted to forward one message to 100 people, earlier he could do it easily".

However, a WhatsApp spokeswoman said that the firm is working closely with the Indian government, NPCI and multiple banks including our payment service providers to expand the feature to more people.

India has expressed dissatisfaction over measures listed by WhatsApp for checking fake news that have in several cases led to mob violence, saying the company can not escape its responsibility for such rampant abuse and needs to find originators of provocative messages.

"It is regretted that the enormity of the challenge and the rampant abuse happening in the country, leading to repeated commissioning of crimes pursuant to rampant circulation of irresponsible messages in large volumes on their platform, have not been addressed adequately by WhatsApp", the ministry said. The company's taken out full-page advertisements in prominent English and Hindi newspapers warning readers on fake news.

WhatsApp had also told the government that it is "horrified by these awful acts of violence" and its strategy to deal with the situation involves giving people the controls and information they need to stay safe while working pro-actively to prevent misuse of the service. The notice asked WhatsApp to implement "more effective solutions" that can bring in "accountability and facilitate enforcement of law" in the wake of rising incidents of rumours on Whatsapp triggering lynching incidents in the country.

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