WhatsApp began to limit the number of times users can forward a message in India last July as part of a broader crackdown on fake news. This was prompted by fatal violence that led to the death of one man and other injuries in the country at that time due to false information that spread through the platform.
Today, the Facebook-owned service announced that it will bring that restriction to all of its users worldwide. That means WhatsApp will start limiting your ability to forward messages to as many as five recipients only. Prior to this change, users were able to send the same message to up to 20 people.
Victoria Grand, Vice President for Policy and Communications at WhatsApp, announced the update at an event in Indonesia on Monday. The new message forwarding policy will take effect on Android phones first before it hits iOS devices.
However, the measure is not entirely foolproof as direct recipients can still forward a similar message, false or otherwise, to other individuals, keeping the message chain going. It's not exactly clear how WhatsApp will identify forwarded messages and limit their spread, but earlier this month Facebook hired UK-registered charity Full Fact to deal with misinformation on its ecosystem.
In the case of encryption-protected WhatsApp, fact-checking content on its platform would supposedly mean easing the service's encryption system. And that's one challenge that it needs to address in order to block those seeking to flood the platform with misleading content.