Date
16 October 2018
Facing severe criticism, especially in India, about the spread of fake information on its platform, WhatsApp is implementing some changes to its messaging service. Photo: Bloomberg
Facing severe criticism, especially in India, about the spread of fake information on its platform, WhatsApp is implementing some changes to its messaging service. Photo: Bloomberg

WhatsApp makes further moves in bid to curb fake news, spam

WhatsApp, the instant messaging app owned by Facebook, is rolling out more changes as it seeks to curb fake news and spam on its social platform.

After recently adding labels that can help users identify whether a message has been written by the sender himself or herself or had been just forwarded, WhatsApp is now taking aim at message forwarding.

Under a trial program, users will see limits imposed on the number of contacts and groups that a particular message can be forwarded to at a time.

The limit will be 20 in general, but in India — which is WhatsApp’s biggest market — it will be just five.

In India, we will “test a lower limit of 5 chats at once and we’ll remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” the company said in an announcement.

“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,” it added.

TechCrunch noted that the change in the forwarding function is a “direct response” to a chain of incidents in India.

It was referring to horrific crimes such as mob beatings and killings that took place in the South Asian nation recently after miscreants spread rumors and fake information on WhatsApp.

In one case, fake news spread about “child abductors” resulted in a 32-year-old man being killed by a mob in the south Indian state of Karnataka and two others getting thrashed mercilessly.

The victims were later confirmed innocent.

Facing criticism that it was helping the spread of rumors, WhatsApp took out full-page ads in major Indian newspapers last week, saying it is determined to fight false information on its platform.

Last Tuesday, WhatsApp added labels to help users determine the identity of the source of a message.

The addition of such labels can help “you determine if your friend or relative wrote the message they sent or if it originally came from someone else,” it said in a blog post.

Now, the company is implementing further measures that it hopes can help curb the spread of false social media messages.  

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JC/RC

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