WhatsApp Update: Facebook's Freeware-Messaging App Fights Spreading Fake News

The WhatsApp messaging application is seen on a phone screen
The WhatsApp messaging application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Thomas White)

Not all people around the world can spot the fake news from not. In this generation, it's easier to send the message to random people and friends with the help of social media. Sadly, not all messages are worth sharing as it contains fake information.

On Monday, Jan. 21, Facebook Inc's WhatsApp executives announced that its platform is limiting worldwide the number of times a user can forward a message to five, starting on the day it announced the changes. The tech company vowed to fight "misinformation and rumors," according to Reuters.

Before the forwarding restrictions implemented in the platform, WhatsApp users could forward a message to 20 individuals or groups. The reason why the company implemented forwarding restrictions because of rumors spread on social media in India happened in July. The rumors caused killings and lynching attempts.

WhatsApp first implemented the forwarding restrictions for users in India. Last year, five men were killed in Maharashtra's Dhule district after rumors of kidnappings, which came from WhatsApp users. Dozens of others had been killed because of false information on WhatsApp, the Times of India reported.

"We're imposing a limit of five messages all over the world as of today," Victoria Grand, vice president for policy and communications at WhatsApp, said at an event in the Indonesian capital on Monday.

In a blog post, the tech company announced the forwarding restrictions after the incident, in response to demands by India's government. "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," the company explained in a blog post.

About 1.5 billion WhatsApp users have been trying to find ways to stop misuse of the app. The spread of fake news has become the global concern and the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and such messaging apps become a tool to spread the misleading content such as videos without context, audio hoaxes, and manipulated images,

The free messaging service like WhatsApp became part of the political battleground in Brazil's presidential election as well in October 2018. The far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who is now the president of Brazil, was accused of using the app to spread falsehoods related to his main opponent. Bolsonaro denied the charges. 

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