It was early last month that WhatsApp began applying labels to forwarded messages in a beta version of its chat client on Android before finally introducing the feature in a public release a bit over a week ago. At the time, the company said the change "will help make one-on-one and group chats easier to follow".
Now, the Facebook-owned platform has announced additional changes to how forwarding works by introducing limits on how many subsequent chats can receive a forwarded message. Specifically, WhatsApp said that:
"In India - where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world - we'll also test a lower limit of 5 chats at once and we'll remove the quick forward button next to media messages."
Outside of India, users will be limited to forwarding messages to 20 chats at a time.
The news comes after one man lost his life and two others were severely beaten near Handikera, India after false allegations of child abduction against the men had been spread using WhatsApp. The event unfolded despite the company having bought ads in newspapers to warn and educate people about fake news and how to challenge such information.
"Question information that upsets you", says WhatsApp's full-page advertisements. Clearly the solution to declining newspaper ad revenues in India will come from how we tackle our digital fake news crisis. pic.twitter.com/3h5XyJeMIr— Anuj Srivas (@AnujSrivas) July 10, 2018
Of course, it remains to be seen as to how effective these changes end up being in the long run but the change by itself will likely not be a silver bullet in the fight against false information.