Daniel Friedman
2 minute read
21 Jan 2019
3:01 pm

WhatsApp tackles fake news by limiting how many times you can forward a message

Daniel Friedman

The new feature was first introduced in India, where WhatsApp rumours are believed to have led to the death of at least 31 people.

An Indian newspaper vendor reading a newspaper with a full back page advertisement from WhatsApp intended to counter fake information. Picture: AFP

WhatsApp is introducing a limit to the number of people you can forward a message to at once in a bid to curb the spread of fake news, Hindustan Times reports.

The company, which says it has roughly a billion users daily, says it hopes the move will help “WhatsApp [focus] on private messaging with close contacts”.

The feature was first launched in India, where the sharing of WhatsApp rumours is a serious problem. Indian publication Hindustan Times reported last year that along with the new cap on how many “forwards” you can send at once, WhatsApp also rolled out educational videos calling on their users to question forwarded videos and try and spot fake news.

BBC reports that according to its analysis, at least 31 people have been killed in mob violence fueled by false WhatsApp rumours.

READ MORE: ‘Fake news’ claiming journo would be fired for writing false Zuma article goes viral

The company will now be rolling out the cap on ‘forwards’, which has been in place in India since last July, globally.

Along with the cap, a new feature labelling forwarded messages, so users are aware that the message did not originate from its sender, will be introduced.

Rumours circulated on the massively popular private messaging app have been a problem in South Africa – a message over the weekend alleged that The Sunday Times was in the process of attempting to fire a journalist for her refusal to link former president Jacob Zuma, as well as Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, businesswoman Dudu Myeni, and former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng, to the Bosasa scandal. The message, which claimed to be from a young journalist, Farida Joyce, was fabricated. The source of the message is not yet clear.

Joyce has never worked at The Sunday Times, and told The Citizen the fake rumours were not “good for my career or my future”.

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