WhatsApp Tests Limiting Message Forwarding After Mob Lynchings in India

Jul 20, 2018
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WhatsApp has been having some major issues in India as the platform is being used for forwarding rumors and false information that have led to violent mob attacks. The Facebook-owned messaging service is now taking some measures to deal with these concerns after it came under fire for amplifying violence.

WhatsApp has announced launching a trial program that will limit forwarding messages. This limit will most significantly apply to users in India. "Today, we're launching a test to limit forwarding that will apply to everyone using WhatsApp," the company wrote in a statement. "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."

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Globally, the limit is reportedly set to be at 20 chats. The company is also removing the “quick forward” button in India that is placed next to multimedia messages to make it easier for users to share photos and videos faster. This move is the first significant step that WhatsApp has taken to favor user safety over the factor of content going viral.

Provocative and false content gone viral through WhatsApp has led to mass beatings

India is the company's biggest market with over 200 million users. However, the local government and law enforcement officials have continued to demand the messaging app to take steps to prevent the circulation of provocative content and false information. False messages about child abductions have resulted in a series of violent mob beatings.

WhatsApp published advertisements in local newspapers last week to handle the spread of misinformation on the platform. In response to the Indian government's demand to tackle the issue, the company also said that it needs help from both the government and society in general.

"We’re horrified by the violence in India, and we’ve announced a number of different product changes to help address these issues,” the company said. "It’s a challenge which requires an action by civil society, government and tech companies."

WhatsApp's original founders have both left the platform with reports suggesting that they didn't agree with Facebook's security and privacy policies.

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