whatsapp limits the transmission of often shared messages

Posted by santillano at 2020-04-14

The "Italian doctor" from Shenzhen Hospital. The blonde woman who reports how "here in Italy" people supposedly die "like flies." Or even the fake SPIEGEL announcement to shorten the summer holidays in Bavaria: On WhatsApp, during the Corona crisis, numerous false or at least questionable information circulates, from out of control April prank to panic.

WhatsApp has now announced a small change that could at least limit the reach of impersonal messages such as chain letters. Frequently forwarded messages, which the service has automatically marked with a double arrow symbol, can therefore only be forwarded individually to a chat partner from now on. This means, for example, that anyone who wants to send a chain letter to three contacts should do so three times in a row.

The double arrow on WhatsApp is not to be confused with the acknowledgement of receipt of the service, i.e. the gray or blue double hook respectively. WhatsApp assigns the double arrow according to its own explanation to messages that have been passed on more than five times by one user to another.

If you encounter such a marked message, you should feel warned: here comes something impersonal, something that many people have already shared (and for which, if it is not made up or complete nonsense, there should also be media reports in the case of news for a long time).

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Not the first rule adjustment

At the same time, however, the normal, single forwarding file does not necessarily mean that you are one of the first recipients of a message. For example, chain letters can be easily copied and then redistributed as minimally as possible. For WhatsApp, which, because of its end-to-end encryption, does not know the actual content of the messages, such a re-launch would then again be a new message until it comes back to more than five forwards. (Some tips on how to detect false messages yourself can be found here.)

The new redirection rule is not the first one that WhatsApp wants to use to stop misinformation. Thus, the Facebook daughter had already announced in January 2019 that from now on content can only be forwarded to up to five contacts or chat groups at once -before 20 contacts were allowed. Those who choose a sixth contact will now receive the message "You can only share in five chats". It is possible to share the same message with other contacts afterwards.

In India, WhatsApp had already activated the five-contact rule in the summer of 2018: In the country, rumors and false news had led to several killings. Similar problems had occurred in Indonesia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

In the context of the global corona crisis, WhatsApp now writes, "with the increase in communications in recent weeks," it has also noted a "significant increase in broadcast news, "In order to keep communication on WhatsApp safe and private, we will restrict the possibility of further disseminating frequently transmitted messages."

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