WhatsApp rolls out changes to limit rumour spread

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New Delhi (NM Bureau): Acting upon government instruction in India to proactively make changes in its technology to curb spread of rumours, WhatsApp India has now rolled out changes that will limit the amount of message forwarding. The action by the social media giant comes after a spate of mob violence and lynchings in India caused by WhatsApp forwarded misinformation led to several deaths.

“We believe that these changes — which we’ll continue to evaluate — will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” Facebook owned WhatsApp’s blog post said.

More than 200 million people use the messaging service in India, making it WhatsApp’s biggest market. Users in India forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world. 

The recent spate of allegations against WhatsApp of its inability to curb fake messages began on July 1 when five people were reportedly lynched in Dhule area in Maharashtra province after a rumor circulated on the whatsApp said there were child app abductors in the area. Following outcry in Indian media, government sent a notice to WhatsApp asking to curb fake messages on its platform. 

WhatsApp introduced a new feature on July 10 that let users know when a message had been forwarded and it also took out full page advertisements in Indian newspapers detailing ways and means to fight fake news.

With the Indian government talking tough on WhatsApp's failure to check the spread of fake and provocative content on its platform, the instant messaging service on Wednesday announced the rolling out its forward message limit to five chats for over 200 million users in India.

"The limit has started to appear this week for people in India who are on the current version of WhatsApp," the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

In addition, the instant messaging app also published a new video to educate its users, saying it is expanding its user education campaign on how to spot fake news and hoaxes.

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