Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

WhatsApp limits message forwarding to curb rumour spreading

The five-recipient limit expands globally after it was introduced in India in July to quell spate of mob killings

Facebook's WhatsApp messenger service will limit the number of times a user can forward a message in a bid to fight "misinformation and rumours".

Users could forward a message to 20 individuals or groups. This will be limited to just five, company executives said on Monday.

"We're imposing a limit of five messages all over the world as of today," Victoria Grand, vice president for policy and communications at WhatsApp, said in Jakarta.

The five-recipient limit was introduced in India in July after WhatsApp faced government pressure to halt the spread of rumours that led to several mob killings.

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More than 20 people were murdered by crazed mobs in about a two-month period in India after being accused of child kidnapping and other crimes in viral messages on the platform.

Fatal attacks were also carried out on Muslims accused of killing and transporting cattle by "protection" groups roaming highways and inspecting livestock trucks.

WhatsApp, which has about 1.5 billion users, has also been underfire for not tackling the spread fake news, manipulated photos and video and audio hoaxes.

The app's end-to-end encryption allows groups of hundreds of users to exchange texts, photos and video beyond the purview of independent fact checkers or even the platform.

WhatsApp will roll out an update to activate the new forward limit, starting Monday, said WhatsApp's head of communications Carl Woog.

Android users will receive the update first, followed by users of Apple's iOS.

Updated: January 22, 2019 07:43 PM

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