Facing continuous censure from Indian government after a spate of mob lynching incidents due to spread of rumour on Whatsapp, the instant messaging app is looking up to limit the forward option of messages to just five users in a go. By limiting the forwarding option, Whatsapp expects to control spread of fake news on the instant messaging app.

Whatsapp, that was developed with an intention of connecting friends and family through an internet-based chatting platform has become the reason for mob lynching in India. Whatsapp states that in India, users forward more messages, photos, and videos, than any other country in the world – leading to extensive spread of rumours. The problem of mob lynching incidents across India intensified by Whatsapp rumours led the Indian government to notify the messaging giant to come up with an instant and effective solution.

Henceforth, Whatsapp launched its forward label in India earlier this month, labelling every forwarded message with a “forwarded” tag. But soon after the launch of the new feature, the Indian government sent a second letter to Whatsapp asking for “more effective solutions” that can bring in “accountability and facilitate enforcement of law” in the wake of rising incidents of rumours on Whatsapp triggering lynching incidents in the country. Under pressure and a will to not lose its largest market, Whatsapp is launching a test to limit message-forwarding on the app.

If tested effective, Whatsapp will limit forwarding message option to just five chats at once, and after the limit of five is crossed, it will lead to the forwarding option disabled for that particular message. The limit will be applicable on texts, images, audio and video files. In addition, it said, it would “remove the quick forward button next to media messages” – preventing spontaneous and quick message forwarding. With this, they expect to help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app.

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