WhatsApp limits message forwarding to slow spread of COVID-19 misinformation

File: A WhatsApp spokesman said the new limit was in place indefinitely.

File: A WhatsApp spokesman said the new limit was in place indefinitely.

AFP/Lionel Bonaventure

SAN FRANCISCO - Facebook Inc's WhatsApp tightened message forwarding limits on Tuesday, restricting users to sharing forwarded content one chat at a time after a jump in messages touting bogus medical advice since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

The pandemic, which has killed more than 70,000 people worldwide, has been accompanied by what the World Health Organization (WHO) has called an "infodemic" of misinformation, prompting governments and other authorities to urge social media companies to do more to combat the problem.

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WhatsApp, which has more than 2 billion users worldwide, said in a blog post it made the change after observing a "significant increase" in the number of forwards since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

"We believe it's important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation," the statement said.

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A WhatsApp spokesman said the new limit was in place indefinitely.

Facebook and Twitter have responded to the deluge of inaccurate medical information posted in recent months by barring users from posting misleading information about the coronavirus, including denials of expert guidance and encouragement of fake treatments.

Source
Reuters