KEY POINTS

  • Various tech companies have joined in the fight against COVID-19
  • WhatsApp is focusing on helping fight against misinformation during this time
  • The app will now set limits on message forwarding

People from all walks of life are fighting hard against the current COVID-19 pandemic. While many frontliners are hard at work making sure that those who are infected are taken care of so they could recover, some tech companies are aiding in the fight in different ways.

While some tech giants have offered their services for free amid the COVID-19 problem, the tech company behind the popular messaging app WhatsApp has decided to join the fight by fighting against misinformation during this time. The company will do this by limiting the number of people who could receive forwarded messages at any given time, iPhoneHacks reported.

Previously, WhatsApp users were able to forward the same message to five contacts at a time. After sending the message to five contacts, users can then send it again to another batch of five contacts, and so on. WhatsApp has decided to change this and is now limiting users to forwarding messages to only one person at a time.

The company said in an announcement that it has decided to do this after seeing a “significant increase in the amount of forwarding” that has affected its userbase negatively. The company said users reported that the forwarding of messages “can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation,” and has thus decided to act on it.

The messaging service company said it chose to limit the number of contacts that users can forward a message to after setting limits on message forwarding and seeing a 25% decrease in the number of message forwards due to that move.

“We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation,” WhatsApp said.

To be clear, WhatsApp said forwarding isn't bad especially when the messages that are being forwarded include “funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers [users] find meaningful.” The company also said that there are some WhatsApp users who have used the platform to do good things like show their support for frontliners working hard against the pandemic.

Still, the company believes that by limiting message forwarding, it will also help lessen the spread of fake news and help keep WhatsApp a place for people to communicate with each other.

WhatsApp users will face new limits on forwarding of certain messages as part of an effort to curb the spread of misinformation about the pandemic WhatsApp users will face new limits on forwarding of certain messages as part of an effort to curb the spread of misinformation about the pandemic Photo: AFP / NICOLAS ASFOURI