This is a step by WhatsApp to curb the spread of misinformation and fake news amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

WhatsApp to limit forwarding messages to only one chat at a timeImage for representation
Atom Social Media Tuesday, April 07, 2020 - 13:01

In a bid to curb the spread of fake news and misinformation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, WhatsApp has limited forwarding of messaging to only one chat at a time. This comes a year after the instant messaging platform introduced labels on forwards to indicate that a message has been forwarded several number of times.

It also 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,” it added.

WhatsApp says that in the past few weeks, while people have used the platform to organise public moments of support for frontline health workers, there has also been a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which 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,” the company said in a blog.

Last year, WhatsApp limited forwarding WhatsApp messages, especially in India, to a lower limit of 5 chats at once and removed the quick forward button next to media messages.

These previously set limits on forwarded messages, WhatsApp says, led to a 25% decrease in message forwards globally at the time.

WhatsApp said in a blog post that in addition to this change, it is also working directly with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information.

There were also reports earlier that WhatsApp is working on a feature that lets users search for ‘Frequently Forwarded Messages’ on the internet. A sign of a frequently forwarded message, as WhatsApp said earlier, is the double arrows on top of the message.