The messaging app WhatsApp is fairly being used during the COVID-19 pandemic by governments and other authorities in order to circulate the correct and authentic information and set up chatbots but, it was also being used to spread misinformation and rumours regarding the COVID-19.
However, WhatsApp has reported that it has seen a drop of 70% in “highly forwarded” messages – the kind that may spread misinformation about the coronavirus. The World Health Organization has termed the spreading of fake news as info-demic.
These drop-in numbers are due to WhatsApp restricting forwarded messages sent between individual users five times or more than being posted to more than one chat group at a time. Experts, however, anticipate more work to be done in order to reduce the spreading of misinformation.
“We recently introduced a limit to sharing ‘highly forwarded messages’ to just one chat. Since putting into place this new limit, globally there has been a 70% reduction in the number of highly forwarded messages sent on WhatsApp,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told TechCrunch in a statement.
The cutdown on forwards should help in reducing misinformation spreading uncontrollably in the community. Center for Countering Digital Hate chief executive Imran Ahmed told BBC News: “More needs to be done by social media giants such as WhatsApp.There is still a vast amount of misinformation on the platform. The 70% figure seems to mask a lot of complexity on a topic where the nuance is critically important. What metric are they using for that? “In a time when people cannot meet face-to-face, the misinformation crisis is being entirely driven by social-media spread.”
The reduction in the spread of fake news is a great outcome of the step that the messaging app giant took as the relieves some pressure off authorities who are trying to control the situation.