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Serial forwarders be warned as WhatsApp adopts new measures to curb fake news

WhatsApp will now restrict ‘serial forwarders’ to 5 forwards only to prevent sharing of fake news.

WhatsApp is limiting all its members to forwarding any single message up to five times in an effort to tackle the spread of false information on the platform.

The Facebook-owned business had already introduced the policy in India six months ago. The move followed a number of mob lynchings that were blamed on fake reports spread via the service. Until now, users elsewhere could forward messages up to 20 times.

The update to the app’s rules was announced at an event in Jakarta, Indonesia. According to the BBC, it had made its decision after “carefully” evaluating the results of its half-year-long test in the country.

“The forward limit significantly reduced forwarded messages around the world, [This] will help keep WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts. We’ll continue to listen to user feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content,” said a Spokeswoman.

The restriction comes at a time WhatsApp and Facebook’s other services are under scrutiny for their role in the spread of propaganda and other untruths online.

Last week, Facebook announced it had removed 500 pages and accounts allegedly involved in peddling fake news in Central Europe, Ukraine, and other Eastern European nations. It also recently announced that it had employed a UK-fact-checking service to flag content on its main platform.

There is nothing, however, to stop those on the receiving end each forwarding the message up to five times themselves. However according to a 2017 publication by National Public Radio npr.org, lists some of the ways one can fact check fake news by checking for previous work, going to the original source of information and reading laterally which entails reading what other people say about the publication, source, and author.

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