WhatsApp clamps down on viral messages to monitor fake news
Whatsapp has been forced to clamp down on messages due to concerns been raised on how the app has been used recently to spread fake news on COVID19.
Starting today, messages that have been identified as “highly forwarded” — sent through a chain of five or more people — can only be forwarded to a single person.
The move is designed to reduce the speed with which information moves through WhatsApp, putting truth and fiction on a more even footing.
“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,” the company, which is part of Facebook, said in a blog post.
“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.”
What led to a clamp down in numbers?
Complaints about the use of WhatsApp to disseminate false information have been on the media lately with CNN and other news organizations reporting that the app had been used to share a variety of false information about “cures” for COVID-19 and hoaxes about military activity related to the disease.
The prime minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar has also voiced his complaints dissuading people from using the app to spread fake news.
Whatsapp now aiding the WHO to inform the public
In response, WhatsApp promoted a bot made by the World Health Organization that provides information about the disease that has been vetted by healthcare professionals. The app has been used by more than 10 million people. WhatsApp also donated $1 million to the International Fact-Checking Network.