Facebook-owned WhatsApp is making changes it hopes will drastically curtail the ability of users to spread fake news via its social messaging service by making it harder for people to forward messages to very large groups.
The social networking giant has come under intense criticism for the role its popular tools have played in amplifying violence, which has happened in Myanmar and also in India. This move obviously favors safety over virality, although it might not assuage detractors who believe Facebook’s services have created damage in real life.
WhatsApp’s plan, outlined in a blog post Thursday night, is to limit the number of people to whom users can forward messages, theoretically making it harder for fake information to go viral. Globally, users will now be able to forward messages to just 20 people, although that will be limited to only five in India. The previous limit was over 250.
WhatsApp is also getting rid of the “quick forward” feature in India, a button next to multimedia messages that made photos and videos even faster to pass along. WhatsApp is calling these changes a “test.”