WhatsApp to cap message forwarding to 5 chats in India

WhatsApp has said its users in India will not be allowed to forward more than five chats at once. It also said that the company will remove the quick forward button that appears next to media messages, as part of its efforts to reduce circulation of fake messages on the platform that have even incited mob lynching incidents.

In a blog post, WhatsApp noted that its users in India “forward more messages, photos, and videos, than any other country in the world”.

The Facebook-owned company has over one billion users globally, of which over 200 million are in India.

“Today, we’re launching a test to limit forwarding that will apply to everyone using WhatsApp. In India… we’ll also test a lower limit of five chats at once and we’ll remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” the blog post said.

WhatsApp has received flak from the Indian government over fake news and false information being circulated on its messaging platform. The government shot off a second notice to WhatsApp asking it to come out with effective solutions to curb the menace of fake news beyond just labelling forwards. The notice also warned the company that mediums used for propagation of rumours are liable to be treated as ‘abettors’ and can face legal consequences if they remain “mute spectators”.

The company is yet to respond to the notice. However, through the blog post it said that the company believes that “these changes – which we’ll continue to evaluate – will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app”.