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WhatsApp limits message forwarding to slow spread of coronavirus misinformation

WhatsApp limits message forwarding to slow spread of coronavirus misinformation

Facebook Inc’s, WhatsApp tightened message forwarding limits on Tuesday, restricting users to sharing forwarded content one chat at a time after a jump in messages touting bogus medical advice since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

Facebook and Twitter have responded to the deluge of inaccurate medical information posted in recent months by barring users from posting misleading information about the coronavirus, including denials of expert guidance and encouragement of fake treatments.

But direct content moderation is not possible on WhatsApp, where chats are protected by end-to-end encryption blocking even the app itself from viewing content shared by users.

That allows groups of hundreds of people to exchange texts, photos and videos, with no way to monitor the messages’ origin or full reach.

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WhatsApp said in its blog post that the previous limits set on forwards led to a 25% decrease in such messages.

The app also encourages people to flag suspicious content to fact checking organizations and has enabled the WHO and national health authorities to share reliable information about the new coronavirus on the service using automated accounts.

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