WhatsApp recently announced a new limit on message forwarding for users in India in order to combat fake news. People in India forward more messages, videos and photographs than users in any other country, according to the messaging platform.
WhatsApp takes a brilliant step to curb fake news
Whatsapp will be deleting the quick forward button as well in an attempt to prevent the spread of fake news via its messaging system. The quick forward button is placed next to the media messages and its removal is intended to discourage mass forwards in the country.
These steps comes at a time when the social media giant Facebook, which owns Whatsapp, is attempting to fight the fake news problem.
The fake news problem has caused several problems nationwide. Also, with the approach of the Indian elections, there is concern that the spread of fake news will increase during that period. In a statement, the Facebook-owned company said it believes that these changes, which it will continue to evaluate, will aid in keeping the messaging platform the way it was designed to be, which is as a “private messaging app.”
Additionally, the company is testing these new features and limitations across the world, but it did not disclose the limit that is set on the forwarding of messages in other countries. Its blogpost focused on India: “In India – where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world – we’ll also test a lower limit of 5 chats at once and we’ll remove the quick forward button next to media messages.”
IT Ministry asks WhatsApp to be more serious this time
WhatsApp has 200 million users in India, and the new limitations come only a day after the Indian government asked the company to introduce strict steps to curb the fake news threat. The company says in its blog that it is deeply committed to the safety and privacy of users, which is why the app is end-to-end encrypted.
In a letter, the IT Ministry of India had asked the messaging platform for more effective solutions to distinguish between mass forwards and personally crafted messages. In the past few months, there have been an increase in cases of mob-fury and lynching across India due to the circulation of false information and fake news on the messaging platform. Earlier, the company came with full-page advertisements with tips to stop false information.
The government had told the company that the seriousness of the issue warrants a stronger response. It had asked WhatsApp to introduce changes that can facilitate enforcement of law, and bring in accountability and traceability when an inflammatory or provocative message is detected.