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The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has seen a rise in viral messages claiming all sorts of things. While it has been hard for tech companies to take down all the messages, they have been trying to curb the spread of messages to make sure people don’t believe in wild conspiracy theories.
Today, WhatsApp has announced another measure to make sure users can’t forward chain messages to others. Starting today, messages marked as “highly forwarded” can only be forwarded to 1 person. This will break the chain message forwarding that triggered a crisis in India. The company said it’s previous attempts to curb the spread of fake news has “led to a 25% decrease in message forwards globally at the time.”
We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers. However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.
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Some experts say that Coronavirus will be the first true test of social media platforms’ ability to censor misinformation and fake news. While companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google have taken measures to control fake news, it’s still not enough. As the outbreak grows, users are accepting and sharing anything and everything which does more harm than good. Facebook has recently taken steps to stop people from selling products as a cure for Coronavirus.
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