On Thursday, WhatsApp announced that it will be curtailing its message forwarding feature in a bid to prevent the spread of fake news in its platform.

Following a series of violent events in India that were said to be triggered by false social media messages, Facebook-owned company WhatsApp has launched a test that will put a limit to its message forwarding feature.

In a report from the BBC, a man was reportedly killed and two others severely beaten after rumors spread through WhatsApp that they were child abductors.

The new changes will be applied not just to Indian users but to all users of the application.

The initiative will now allow WhatsApp users to forward messages to a limited number of groups only. Initially, users could forward messages to multiple groups. The new trial will now limit the forwarding capability of a user to only 20 groups worldwide.

Read More: Facebook to Acquire Bloomsbury AI to Fight Fake News

However, WhatsApp users in India, the platform’s largest market, will only be able to forward messages to five groups. Aside from this, WhatsApp will also remove the quick forward option that allows users to pass videos and images to other users in India. These drastic changes were said to be due to the pressure the company has been taking from the Indian government over the spread of rumors and fake news.

“We believe that these changes – which we’ll continue to evaluate – will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” WhatsApp said in a blog post.

“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.”

Aside from limiting message forwarding, WhatsApp and Facebook are also said to be working on a fake news verification system. This was reportedly used by Facebook in Mexico to fight spam messages and false news in the country.

Do you have any suggestions on how social media platforms and messaging services could prevent the spread of rumors and fake news?

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