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Fake news crackdown: WhatsApp limits text forwards to five recipients

By Sheetal Sukhija, Kuala Lumpur News
23 Jan 2019, 03:39 GMT+10

CALIFORNIA, U.S. - The Facebook owned popular messaging service, WhatsApp has revealed plans to fight misinformation and rumors through its latest update.

The update unveiled this week, limits the number of people a user can share messages with and is aimed at cracking down on the spread of false information.

The messaging platform announced that it first imposed the five-chat limit in its biggest global market - India.

The tightening of the limit in India was experimented for a six-month period, while the limit outside the country remained 20.

WhatsApp said that it had imposed the limit in India in July last year, after a viral hoax message led to over a dozen lynchings in which, the victims were mistaken as child abductors.

The false rumors that were circulated via WhatsApp were harshly criticized and became the centre of India's fake news debate last year.

At the time, the Indian government had demanded that WhatsApp do more to stop the spread of misinformation.

Now, WhatsApp has announced that it will restrict users globally to forwarding a message to only five chats at a time.

Victoria Grand, Vice President for Policy and Communications at WhatsApp, said, "Were imposing a limit of five messages all over the world as of today."

In an official statement, WhatsApp said, "The forward limit significantly reduced forwarded messages around the world. We'll continue to listen to user feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content."

The messaging service further noted that the limits would help keep WhatsApp a private messaging platform for close contacts.

As per the new restrictions imposed, the number of people in a single chat is limited to 256, while a user can share a forwarded message with up to 1,280 people.

The messaging app boasts of around 1.5 billion users.

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