As tech companies continue to battle misinformation during the global crisis, WhatsApp has begun limiting message forwarding.
In a blog post on the site, the company has announced it is limiting how much frequently forward messages—indicated by double arrows—can be spread, “introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time.”
It is clear the company is endeavoring to balance the usefulness of forwarding messages with efforts to cut down on wide-scale forwarding from unreliable or unconfirmed sources.
“As a private messaging service, we’ve taken several steps over the years to help keep conversations intimate,” reads the post. “For example, we previously set limits on forwarded messages to constrain virality. At the time, we saw a 25% decrease in total message forwards globally.
“Is all forwarding bad? Certainly not. We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers. However, 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. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”
This is a sensible step WhatsApp is taking, as it continues to walk a tightrope between protecting private conversation and limiting the spread of misinformation.