Why it matters: Although WhatsApp didn’t directly say as much, the move is in direct response to the growing spread of false information. In India specifically, WhatsApp has been used to spread false rumors regarding kidnappers, resulting in the death of two dozen innocent people since April.
WhatsApp was conceived as a private messaging app, one that offers a simple, secure and reliable way to communicate with friends and family. Over the years as new features were added, the team was careful to maintain that level of intimacy but as often happens at scale (and make no mistake, WhatsApp is absolutely massive with more than 1.5 billion monthly active users), it deviated from that vision.
Looking to pull back the reins a bit, WhatsApp recently announced a test that’ll limit how many chats you can forward a message to. The experiment will apply to everyone using WhatsApp.
The company didn’t specify a global limit but did say that in India, where people forward more messages, photos and videos than any other country in the world, they’ll be testing a lower limit of five chats at once. What’s more, devs are removing the quick forward button next to media messages.
Sources familiar with the matter tell TechCrunch that users outside of India will be limited to forwarding messages to 20 chats.
The Facebook-owned chat app has purchased full-page newspaper ads in India to warn about the spread of false information but the latest moves could have more of an impact.
Lead photo via Dado Ruvic, Reuters