Messages on social media platform WhatsApp can now only be forwarded to one chat at a time, if the same message has been forwarded at least five times previously.
The move will help curb the spread of misinformation, the Facebook-owned company said in a statement.
“This is the latest limit that WhatsApp has set, making us one of the few products that has taken steps to constrain virality and place limits on how people can send messages,” the company said.
The Menlo Park, California-based company said that its recently-released beta version would have a magnifying glass icon next to a heavily-forwarded message, giving users the option to do a web search to assess the authenticity of the information.
“This feature is currently in testing and we’ll keep you updated on next steps,” WhatsApp said.
In January last year, the platform had set the forwarding limit to five people or groups at a time. It also marked forwards with a double arrow for easy identification. The platform has banned two million accounts that regularly sent bulk or automated messages every month on an average, it said. Additionally, the application also introduced a privacy setting, where users could choose to be added to groups only if they got an invitation to join, it said.
Last month, the platform set up a WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub, in partnership with the World Health Organisation, The United Nations Children's Fund and the United Nations Development Programme. The hub would serve as an information portal for healthcare workers, educators and small businesses to gain insights and verified news related to the pandemic, it said.
Around the same time, the messaging platform also announced a $1 million grant to Poynter Institute’s forum of fact checkers, the International Fact-Checking Network, to curb fake news on WhatsApp and SMS.
Earlier this month, search engine giant Google had also pledged $6.5 million to prevent the spread of Covid-19 misinformation. It will use the fund, sourced through Google News Initiative, for fact checkers and non-profit organisations fighting misinformation, it said.