Aiming to curb fake news, Facebook-owned platform WhatsApp on Monday announced it has globally lowered to five the forward limit for chats — a feature first launched in India last July. “Starting today, WhatsApp will be implementing this change, globally i.e. all users on the latest versions of WhatsApp can now forward to only five chats at once,” the Facebook-owned platform said in a blog post. Earlier, the company allowed users globally to forward messages for up to 20 chats (either individuals or groups).
“The new change will continue to help keep WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts,” it added. 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 last year rolled out its forward message limit to five chats for over 200 million users in the country.
In one of its notices, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) said WhatsApp has been requested to come out with more effective solutions that can bring in accountability and facilitate enforcement of the law in addition to their efforts towards labelling forwards and identifying fake news.
The IT Ministry had also asked WhatsApp to ensure that the platform is not used for spam activities over the growing instances of the lynching of innocent people owing to a large number of irresponsible messages filled with rumours. In August, Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the visiting WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels to comply with the Indian laws and take “suitable” steps to prevent misuse of the instant messaging platform in the country.
Daniels’ meeting with the IT Minister came against the backdrop of several incidents of mob lynching being linked to the circulation of fake messages and misinformation on the instant messaging platform.
After being pulled up by the Supreme Court for not appointing a Grievance Officer and complying with other laws of India, WhatsApp in September appointed Komal Lahiri as the Grievance Officer for the country. Based out of WhatsApp’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, Lahiri can be contacted via email and general post.
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