WhatsApp has put new restrictions on forwarded messages in an effort to clamp down on misinformation about the coronavirus.
Users can now forward certain messages to only one conversation at a time instead of the previous limit of five, the service announced Tuesday. The rule applies to messages that have already been passed along several times, which WhatsApp labels with two arrows.
The move is meant to slow down the viral forwarded messages that can overwhelm users and “contribute to the spread of misinformation,” according to WhatsApp. The platform said it has seen a spike in forwarding amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation,” the company said in a blog post.
WhatsApp has worked to clamp down on forwarding since 2018, when viral messages were reportedly linked to a string of beatings in India. It has recently battled the circulation of fake coronavirus treatments, such as claims that hot liquids will get rid of the virus, according to reports.
WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook, has taken a similarly aggressive stance against misinformation about the coronavirus.
The social-media giant has pledged to remove content that spreads conspiracy theories about the virus or promises to cure it.
WhatsApp said it is working with authorities such as the World Health Organization to help people get accurate information during the virus crisis. Users can also submit suspicious messages to independent fact-checkers.