Fake news regarding information about COVID-19 has been spreading almost as quickly as the virus itself. In an effort to limit the amount of misinformation being spread on its platform, Whatsapp are limiting the frequency of forwarded messages to one chat at a time.
This decision by the company comes as an update to the pre-existing limit that allows users to forward a message for up to five times, and only applies to frequently forwarded messages that have been previously forwarded five times or more.
Along with limiting the amount of messages you can forward, Whatsapp has been working directly with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information.
According to a blog post by Whatsapp, “these trusted authorities have sent hundreds of millions of messages directly to people requesting information and advice.”
In March 2020, Whatsapp were reportedly testing a feature that would allow users to verify the validity of forwarded messages by clicking on a small magnifying glass icon next to the message. When a user clicked on this icon, Whatsapp would perform a web search and ascertain the authenticity of the message.