Fighting Fake News: WhatsApp to Cap Forwards to 5 Chats in India

Further, WhatsApp has decided to remove the quick forward button next to media messages.

2 min read
WhatsApp has received flak from the Indian government over fake news and false information being circulated on its messaging platform.

After a series of social media rumours triggering mob violence and lynchings in the country, WhatsApp, in India, has decided to put a cap on the number of chats one can forward a message to in one go. Users will be allowed to forward messages to only five chats at once.

In a blog post, WhatsApp noted that its users in India "forward more messages, photos, and videos, than any other country in the world". The Facebook-owned company has over one billion users globally, of which over 200 million are in India.

WhatsApp said it was launching “a test to limit forwarding that will apply to everyone using WhatsApp.” Further, the company said it will also remove the quick forward button next to the media messages for users in India.

WhatsApp Facing Flak From Indian Govt

WhatsApp has received flak from the Indian government over fake news and false information being circulated on its messaging platform. Such messages have incited mob-fury, triggering multiple cases of lynching across the country.

On Thursday, 19 July, the government shot off a second notice to WhatsApp asking it to come out with effective solutions to curb the menace of fake news beyond just labelling forwards.

It also warned the company that mediums used for propagation of rumours are liable to be treated as 'abettors' and can face legal consequences if they remain "mute spectators".

Recently, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament that he has requested social media operators to keep a tab in order to avoid the spreading of fake information.

We are deeply committed to your safety and privacy which is why WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, and we’ll continue to improve our app with features like this one.
WhatsApp’s blogpost on 19 July

Rumours on WhatsApp have sparked off a spate of incidents, including one where five men were lynched on the suspicion of being child lifters in Maharashtra's Rainpada village of Dhule district.

More recently, a man was beaten to death, while three others were injured after a mob attacked them suspecting them to be child-lifters, near Bidar in Karnataka.

The Supreme Court too has asked Parliament to consider enacting a new law to effectively deal with incidents of mob lynching, saying "horrendous acts of mobocracy" cannot be allowed to become a norm.

Click here for the complete list of mob lynchings since 2015.

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