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WhatsApp ups fake news fight

WhatsApp tightened rules around forwarding viral messages, after a spike in the number of mass communications being sent and fears on their contributions to the spread of misinformation related to Covid-19 (coronavirus).

In a blog, the company announced the new limit preventing highly-shared messages being sent to multiple chats simultaneously.

It added the change in policy follows a significant increase in the volume of messages being forwarded and comments from users stating the number being received was “overwhelming”.

The Facebook-owned company noted: “We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”

New rules on forwarding are not the first time the company sought to limit the number of times messages can be distributed, as it continues to fight the dissemination of fake news on its platform. In January, it also introduced a specific mark placed on those forwarded more than five times.

In its post, the company also pointed to the beneficial uses of its platform during the outbreak, including working with health organisations to “help connect people with accurate information”. Last month, the company pledged to donate $1 million to a fact checking initiative and created a global information centre.

The move is the latest in the global fight against fake news distributed on social media, which resulted in the spread of a number of rumours during the Covid-19 outbreak, from conspiracy theories on the origins of the virus to incorrect reports of celebrity deaths.

False scientific reports on links between the virus and 5G were blamed for inspiring the recent destruction of mobile masts in the UK.

―Mobile World Live

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