WhatsApp wants to take a firmer stance on fake news than its parent company Facebook. The company has announced it will expand its message forwarding limit around the world. Originally used just in India, the restriction will soon be on every WhatsApp account.
The decision suggests the implementation of a limit to the amount of times a user can forward a message has been a success. Launched in India last year, the feature was designed to prevent the spread of fake news. It followed a situation where an Indian man was killed following violence after false information was spread through WhatsApp.
Globally, users are currently able to forward the same message to up to 20 contacts. With the new restriction this number will be limited to five recipients.
Victoria Grand, Vice President for Policy and Communications at WhatsApp, confirmed the roll out started today. At an event in Indonesia, she said the limit is starting on Android devices and will come to iOS soon.
Of course, simply limiting the number of forward messages a user can send will not solve the problem with fake news, although WhatsApp clearly believes it will help. Furthermore, the company has not detailed how it tracks forward messages and the number a user has sent.
Perhaps this is further evidence that the app is shedding its encryption-protected service. Under encryption, not even people from WhatsApp can view users' messages, so how would they know when a message is forwarded too many times?
Just last week, we reported on WhatsApp's rise in 2018 to become Facebook's most popular service. App Annie reports WhatsApp is now Facebook's most popular service. Yes, even more popular than the company's flagship social network on mobile platforms.
The shift happened last September. App Annie, a research firm, says WhatsApp's monthly active users across Android and iOS surpassed Facebook's. The firm says the lead has been maintained in the months following September.