With the world coming to a standstill, more than half of the planet’s population is currently dependent on WhatsApp, to keep in touch with their friends and family.
People are talking to doctors, teachers and isolated loved ones via WhatsApp during this crisis hour. That is why WhatsApp has end-to-end encrypted all calls and messages of its users by default to give its users a secure place for most personal conversations.
WhatsApp has earlier introduced a feature in which its users were allowed to forward a message multiple times. But now, there will be limitation to this, as messages can only be forwarded tone chat at a time.
Forwarding messages are good, when the forwards are limited to helpful information as well as funny videos, memes, etc. However, there have been increases in the amount of forwarding, which can contribute to the spread of misinformation. So it is necessary to slow down the speed of these messages and keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.
In addition to this change, WhatsApp is working directly with NGOs and government including WHO and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information. Together these trusted authorities have sent hundreds of millions of messages directly to people requesting information and advice. More can be learnt these efforts, as well as how to submit potential myths, hoaxes and rumors to fact checking organizations, on WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub.
Meanwhile, the platform is also looking at another method of verifying information shared by its users.They are working on a feature that would display a small magnifying glass next to each forwarded message, allowing WhatsApp subscribers to double-check the text via a web-search – something that could seriously help debunk the tide of fake news.
WhatsApp will now stop messages being repeatedly forwarded in bulk, to groups. If a message is being relentlessly passed on, users will only be able to send it to one chat at a time, rather than the previous limit of five. Its hoped that this will, at the very least, limit the spread of potentially hazardous misinformation.