WhatsApp to limit message forwarding to stop spread of disinformation

Support us and go ad-free

WhatsApp has introduced new stricter limits on message forwarding in a bid to stop the spread of disinformation.

Now, when users receive a message that has already been frequently forwarded they will only be able to forward it to one chat at a time.

Previously, such messages could be forwarded to five different chats at once.

Frequently forwarded messages are those that have already been forwarded at least five times by others, and are marked by a set of double arrows when appearing in the app.

WhatsApp said the change was part of efforts to fight the spread of disinformation, particularly around the coronavirus outbreak.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Internet platforms have so far struggled to contain content attempting to profit from panic around the pandemic, as well as false claims offering cures to the virus and conspiracy theories linking the outbreak with 5G technology.

The Facebook-owned messaging service said although it did not see message forwarding as inherently bad, it had concerns about the practice being used to spread false information.

“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,” WhatsApp said.

“We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”

Because WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption, it cannot see the content of messages and therefore use the same moderation tools that are deployed by social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

As a result, the platform has had to take steps to try to cut the mass spread of harmful messages and has steadily reduced the amount of times messages can be forwarded at once in recent years.

WhatsApp also confirmed it was testing a feature which would allow users to find out more information about frequently forwarded messages that reach them.

The feature would see a magnifying glass icon appear next to these forwarded messages, giving users the option to do a web search for the message to find news stories and other results linked to it.

On Monday, MPs called for social media platforms to be held to account by the government over their handling of disinformation on their services, while culture secretary Oliver Dowden is to discuss the issue with tech giants this week.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us