After govt’s second notice to check fake news, WhatsApp plans to limit message forwarding to 5 chats in India

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As the government served WhatsApp with a second notice asking it to check the spread of fake and provocative content, the Facebook-owned platform has said it is launching a test to limit forwarding that will apply to everyone in India.

“In India where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world, we’ll also test a lower limit of 5 chats at once.

“We will also remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” WhatsApp said in a blog post on Thursday.

In its second notice, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on Thursday said WhatsApp has been requested to come out with more effective solutions that can bring in accountability and facilitate enforcement of law in addition to their efforts towards labelling forwards and identifying fake news.

“It has been conveyed to them in unmistakable terms that it is a very serious issue which deserves a more sensitive response,” MeitY said.

WhatsApp said that with new changes, which it will continue to evaluate, “will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app”.

“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,” it added.

In its first reply, WhatsApp wrote to the IT Ministry, saying the company is horrified by terrible acts of violence.

The IT Ministry had asked WhatsApp to ensure that the platform is not used for malafide activities over the growing instances of lynching of innocent people owing to large number of irresponsible messages filled with rumours.

WhatsApp, which has over 200 million monthly active users in India, listed several measures it is taking — including labelling Forwarding messages — to control the spread of misinformation and abuse on its platform.

Several people have lost their lives in the past one year by lynch mobs after rumours of child lifting triggered via messages on WhatsApp.

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