WhatsApp is not done with its efforts in clamping down on misinformation and fake news in India. The Facebook-owned company has already set its agenda to facilitate the government in weeding out instigative fake news, the results of which were first seen with the modulation to the message forwarding feature. WhatsApp is now broadening its preventive measures by prohibiting users from forwarding select messages.
According to WABetaInfo, the reliable source of everything related to WhatsApp, the beta version 2.19.97 for Android brings a new setting within group chats that lets the admin block messages that have been “frequently forwarded” on the platform. In the earlier beta version 2.19.86 for Android (and beta version 18.104.22.168 for iOS), WhatsApp started labelling forwarded messages on the basis of the number of times they were being forwarded to chats.
WhatsApp predefines a forwarded message as ‘frequently forwarded’ if it has been sent to more than five chats, both individual chats and group chats included. In the new update, the admins can choose to allow the ‘frequently forwarded’ messages to be sent in the group chat. The group chat admins ‘Allow’ or ‘Disallow’ the ‘frequently forwarded’ messages. The new setting is not visible as yet in the beta version 2.19.97 on Android but it should be rolled out soon, as per the report.
However effective the new setting may be in curtailing the spread of fake news on the platform, there will always be the option to copy and paste the messages to as many chats as the sender wants. While WhatsApp has laid out its detailed plans in cracking down on the misinformation, including the new tipline service that lets users check the authenticity of news, there are potential loopholes in the pursuit. It is crucial for tech companies to address the issue of fake news, especially when the union election in India is just around the corner.