The spread of disinformation has led to considerable confusion and panic surrounding COVID-19. With this in mind, WhatsApp announced today that it will not allow its users to forward messages with "double arrows" to more than one chat at a time.
These double arrows were introduced last year to signify those messages that do not originate from close contacts and have been forwarded myriad times. WhatsApp claimed that such messages are "less personal" in comparison to typical texts and can potentially lead to disinformation. To prevent any virality of such misreporting, from now on, these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time.
This is not the first time that WhatsApp has tried to curb disinformation by limiting the forwarding of messages. Last year, the messaging app brought down the limit of forwarding messages to five recipients from 20.
Further, amidst the current pandemic, WhatsApp has also focused on spreading authentic information. Last month, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), WhatsApp launched a chatbot to answer queries related to COVID-19.
Other companies have been taking measures to fight disinformation as well. Most recently, reports have surfaced claiming that YouTube is going to remove videos that promote the idea that there is a correlation between the spread of the COVID-19 disease and 5G networks.
All in all, WhatsApp assured that while the forwarding of text messages itself is not bad, the firm believes that "it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation."