That image of your littlest nephew sitting on the couch all chocolate-covered, with a half-eaten banana and a manic grin on his face? WhatsApp will only let you forward that image a maximum of five times, thanks to silly people who believe everything that they read. The messaging app has announced that it will be limiting available forwards from 20 groups or people down to just five.
The reasoning for the move is that it’s looking to combat “misinformation and rumours” on the platform, according to a report from Reuters.
Limiting forwards to just five instances was tested last year in India, reports The Verge, following violent incidents caused by the spread of false information about child kidnappings. Prior to that, users were able to forward messages to 20 groups and/or people and, before that, users were given 256 forwards to play with. It’s thought that mindless forwarding of false or inaccurate images and information may have influenced the recent Brazilian election. There have been instances of WhatsApp-fuelled fake news in Indonesia and Nigeria as well.
Bread pellet, meet black hole
WhatsApp may have made its revised-downwards announcement yesterday in Indonesia but the rollout will be global. Everyone will find that they’re limited to forwarding messages just a handful of times. It’s still possible to send those adorable images to large numbers of people, for those with colossal extended families, but it’ll take some doing. That’s the point really: throwing a few hurdles in the way of being able to mindlessly share information that may or may not be correct.
WhatsApp and Facebook haven’t released any information concerning the effectiveness of these moves curbing the spread of false news based on their tests, so we’re kind of taking their word that it’s effective at this point. Android users will see their forwarding abilities limited first, followed by iOS users.