WhatsApp has introduced a limit on its forwarding feature which ensures that viral messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time.
Messages which qualify as viral are identifiable on the messaging platform by double arrows.
This identification was implemented last year to inform users that certain messages were “less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp.”
WhatsApp said that not all viral forwarding is bad, and it has seen users use the feature for reasons that are not harmful, and in some cases are even valuable – such as the sharing of important information.
“However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation,” said WhatsApp.
“We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”
WhatsApp said its teams continue to work hard to keep WhatsApp functioning reliably during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ll continue to listen to your feedback and improve ways for people to share with each other on WhatsApp,” it said.
Measures to fight COVID-19
In addition to making this change, WhatsApp said it is assisting the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus in other ways.
“We are working directly with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information,” said WhatsApp.
“Together these trusted authorities have sent hundreds of millions of messages directly to people requesting information and advice.”
South Africa is one such country that is using WhatsApp to keep South Africans informed regarding the pandemic.
South Africans who want to use the WhatsApp coronavirus information service must send the message “Hi” on WhatsApp to 0600 123 456.
This service provides the latest news and information about the COVID-19 coronavirus including details on symptoms and measures people can take to protect themselves and others.
It also provides the latest situation reports and statistics in real-time.