WhatsApp’s recently-implemented restrictions on the forwarding of viral messages have had a significant impact on the spread of these types of messages.
Speaking to TechCrunch, the company said that the spread of highly-forwarded messages on its platform has dropped by 70% globally since it implemented its new restrictions.
“We recently introduced a limit to sharing ‘highly forwarded messages’ to just one chat,” WhatsApp said.
“Since putting into place this new limit, globally there has been a 70% reduction in the number of highly forwarded messages sent on WhatsApp.”
“This change is helping keep WhatsApp a place for personal and private conversations. WhatsApp is committed to doing our part to tackle viral messages,” the company said.
In addition to reducing the exposure of viral messages to users of the application, this restriction also inhibits the ability for fake news to spread quickly over the messaging platform.
This is increasingly important as misinformation about the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to circulate across various social media and messaging platforms.
Restriction on viral messages
WhatsApp first introduced new restrictions on the forwarding of viral messages earlier this month, ensuring that these messages could only be forwarded to one chat at a time.
Messages which qualify as viral are identifiable on the messaging platform by double arrows.
WhatsApp said that while the forwarding of viral messages can, in some cases, be valuable for sharing important information, there had been a significant increase of forwarding which could leave users feeling overwhelmed and lead to the spread of misinformation.
“We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation,” the company said.
WhatsApp said its teams continue to work hard to keep WhatsApp functioning reliably during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.