WhatsApp messenger is introducing a feature that will limit its users to forwarding a message to only five people. This is one of the organisations plans to curb the spread of fake news about the novel Coronavirus.
According to Sky News, the move was necessitated by an increase in forwarding messages during the COVID-19 pandemic. Facebook, which is WhatsApp’s parent company, announced the new move.
Among the false claims are rumours that 5G masts which have been in several parts of the world cause the virus.
WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption allows users to send texts, photos and video without the oversight of independent fact checkers or even the platform itself, a move that sought to give its users privacy.
Having made good with its users over the privacy feature, rescindinging the end-to-end encryptions might cause backlash. Nonetheless, combating the rumours is still a top priority.
According to Reuters, the new directive is to be rolled out on Monday to android users before it is updated on iOS.
Some users are however skeptical as to whether the move will work. This is because it does not limit forwarding of messages to groups which could hold up to 256 users. Forwarding a message to five full-capacity groups still poses the risk of sending fake news to over 1000 users.
However, this is not the company’s first directive of its kind as in the past it has imposed a similar limit after brutal lynchings in India.