WhatsApp has released an announcement regarding the setting of limits on forwarded messages, in order to constrain virality. The social platform has indicated that it is necessary as billions of people are relying on WhatsApp more during the pandemic to communicate:
People are talking to doctors, teachers and isolated loved ones via WhatsApp during this crisis. That’s why all your messages and calls on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted by default to give you a secure place for your most personal conversations.
Last year, we introduced users to the concept of messages that have been forwarded many times. These messages are labeled with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from a close contact.
In effect, these messages are less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp. We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time.
As a private messaging service, we’ve taken several steps over the years to help keep conversations intimate. For example, we previously set limits on forwarded messages to constrain virality, which led to a 25% decrease in message forwards globally at the time.
Is all forwarding bad? Certainly not. We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes and reflections or prayers they find meaningful.
In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organise public moments of support for frontline health workers. 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.
We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.
In addition to this change, we are working directly with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organisation and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information.
Together, these trusted authorities have sent hundreds of millions of messages directly to people, requesting information and advice.
We believe that now more than ever, people need to be able to connect privately. Our teams are hard at work to keep WhatsApp running reliably during this unprecedented global crisis.