NEW DELHI:To curb the spread of fake news and rumours on its platform, which has led to several cases of lynching, WhatsApp is launching a test to limit forwarding of messages by its users.
WhatsApp on Friday said that its users in India will not be allowed to forward more than five messages (including regular chats, videos, documents, photos and GIFs) at a time. WhatsApp hopes that this measure will curb the frequency of messages being forwarded.
The company is also removing the quick forward button that appears next to media messages. “In India, people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world,” said WhatsApp, which has more than 200 million users in India. The new features will come into effect immediately for Android and iOS devices which have received the latest WhatsApp update.
WhatsApp came up with the new measure a day after it received a notice from the Ministry of Electronics and IT to take the steps immediately.The ministry said that if the company, whose medium is used for propagating rumours, remained “mute spectators”, it was liable to be treated as “abettors” and face the consequent legal action.
The ministry referred to the recent incident in Bidar, where a 32-year-old software engineer was lynched after rumours of him being a child lifter went viral, and said that rampant abuse of its platform had “not been addressed adequately by WhatsApp.”In the last one year, nearly three dozen people have been killed by mobs incited by forwarded WhatsApp messages.