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WhatsApp to limit forwarding to five chats in India

On Thursday, Indian government sent out a second letter to WhatsApp

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MUMBAI: WhatsApp, the world’s most popular messaging app, is now firmly embedded into our social fabric. The simplicity and utility of the app has enabled it to breach several divides. The emergence of WhastApp as a dominant communication tool has also brought into focus the menace of fake news, false videos and rumour mongering.

False propaganda on WhastApp has been the source of several unfortunate incidents, including mob lynching, in India of late. The recent developments have compelled the Indian government to push the Facebook-owned messaging app into adopting more stringent measures.

Taking note of all concerns, WhatsApp is now testing a new policy for its chat forwarding feature.

‘Today, we're launching a test to limit forwarding that will apply to everyone using WhatsApp. 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 and we'll remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” WhatsApp said in its blog on Friday.

The company has over one billion users globally, of which over 200 million are in India. The option of forwarding multiple chats at once was added a few years ago.

On Thursday, Indian government sent out a second letter to WhatsApp asking the company to come up with more effective solutions to tackle the existing problem.

On 3 July, the IT Ministry had sent a letter to WhatsApp to address the issue of provocative messages.

In response to the first notice, WhatsApp emphasised on collaborative effort from government, civil society and technology companies to check fake news, misinformation and hoaxes.

While outlining planned measures in its reply, WhatsApp said it has the ability but since it cannot see the content of private messages, blocking can be done only based on user reports.

“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,” the new blog reads.

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