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WhatsApp limits forwarding of messages to only five people

WhatsApp is now limiting forwarding of any message up to a maximum of five people in an effort to tackle the spread of false information on the platform.

The Facebook-owned business had already introduced the policy in India in mid-2018.

The Guardian quoted Mr Carl Woog, Head of Communications at WhatsApp, announcement in Jakarta on Monday, that WhatsApp users will be blocked from forwarding messages to more than five individuals or groups.

“We settled on five because we believe this is a reasonable number to reach close friends while helping prevent abuse,” said Mr Woog.

The firm chose India to pilot the limitation because by its own observation, it is “where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world”.

The decision was reached upon by the platform in July following the high rate of forwarded messages in India, a country which holds the highest number of Whatsapp users globally, standing at 200 million users.

The company said on its blog in January that this would reduce the number of forwarded messages as it has happened in India during a six-month trial period with the forwarding limitation.

AT A GO

Before the update, if you selected a message and elected to forward it, WhatsApp would allow you to choose up to 20 chats, be it groups or individuals, then forward to them all at a go.

The limitation on the number of chats one can forward messages to follows another update in July 2018 which introduced labelling of forwarded chats to let users know they were not receiving an original post.

A forwarded text message to a new recipient is marked as forwarded in light grey text but otherwise appears indistinguishable from an original message sent by a contact.

It strips away the identity of the sender and allows messages to spread virally with little accountability.

Ranked as the most popular messaging app, the company has over 1.5 billion active users worldwide.

While the smaller forwarding limit could help curb the spread of bad information, experts warn, it won’t necessarily be as limiting as it sounds.

Messages can still be forwarded to groups, with each group including up to 256 people.

That means a forwarded message could be put in front of nearly 1,300 people, despite the five time limit.