WhatsApp Taking Steps To Curb Down Fake News Dissemination
WhatsApp is best known as a platform that allows people to send messages or files to multiple recipients. Seeing how social media platforms have now become a new channel for spreading news articles, sharing links has now become more common.
However, the Facebook-owned operation has fallen prey to misinformation. The problem has grown rampant over in India with people spreading rumors on suspected child abductors, leading to a spate of mob lynchings. Hence, the spread of fake news has gotten out of hand, and WhatsApp has been warned about the whole issue, Fortune reported.
To contain the problem, WhatsApp announced that they were limiting forwarding options for everyone. According to Tech Crunch, limit forwarding will be up to 20 groups at once and nothing more.
However, the limits will be different in India. Known for sending more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world, forwarding will be limited to five chats simultaneously under the test. Further, users from there will no longer see the quick forward button that is typically found next to the media messages.
With India being WhatApp’s largest market, it remains to be seen how these changes will affect users. There are over 200 million users over there with roughly 1.5 billion monthly active users.
“We believe that these changes—which we’ll continue to evaluate—will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” as mentioned on the official WhatsApp blog.
Aside from the latest test limits on forwarding items, WhatsApp also tried another feature to combat the spread of fake news. This came in the form of a new label that would indicate if the sent text or media message had previously been forwarded.
It remains to be seen what other features WhatsApp may consider deploying as it scampers to avoid being branded an abettor to a crime that could lead to urgent legal action. Aside from the limitation set on forwarding as well as labeling, the Facebook-owned company offered researchers up to $50,000 in grants to study fake news, Engadget suggested.
WhatsApp will entertain proposals and studies that can help pin down the potential spread of false information via the messaging platform. This includes figuring out how to detect problematic or illegal behavior without surveying the content.
No data will be provided by WhatsApp as stated in their terms. All study results and conclusions will be owned by the researchers who will also not be obligated to share with the messaging service. Aside from those mentioned, there is no official word on other measures WhatsApp is undertaking.