WhatsApp is testing a new feature in which it limits the number of times a message can be forwarded to other WhatsApp groups. The limitations imposed are different across the globe; while the United States is limited to 20 forwards, the social media app is imposing a stricter limit of 5 forwards in India. That is to say, should WhatsApp choose to move ahead with this feature, users will be able to forward a message to 5 groups at the most.
This comes in response to the nature of fake news spreads on WhatsApp and the severe consequences thereof. In India especially, recent forwards about child abductors have led to mob lynchings resulting in the deaths of several people who were incorrectly accused of kidnapping children through the fake messages doing the rounds. The Indian government called for WhatsApp to implement stricter rules and monitor the use of such notorious news through the app, with concerns especially high in light of the fact that country-wide elections in the nation are a month away. The last thing the government, or anyone for that matter would want, is fake forwards on WhatsApp influencing the elections, which would be not be the first time a social media company swayed electoral results.
Reportedly, WhatsApp executives met with the country officials to work out a solution. The solution is being tested as of now and could find its way into the live build if it proves effective.