At the beginning of April, Whatsapp introduced new forwarding limits for messages in response to the spread of coronavirus-related misinformation on the platform. TechCrunch reports, “highly forwarded” messages have dropped by 70 percent since the new measure was put in place.
The limit was all about making it more difficult to send mass-messages to people. So if a message has already been forwarded by five or more people, now it can only be forwarded to a single person or group.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation,” the company said when it announced the new measures. “We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversations.”
Even so, we don’t really know how many of these messages contain the misinformation that WhatsApp is trying to reduce, versus how many of them are helpful advice or harmless memes.
Whatsapp is a popular platform to spread news, fake and real, quickly. Groups can contain as many as 256 participants, making very easy to get viral messages out there. CNN and other news organizations reported that the platform was being used to share misinformation about coronavirus cures and authorities have called on the company to make more efforts in trying to stop the misinformation.