New Delhi: In an initiative to curb the the spread of fake messages through social medium, WhatsApp announced on Friday that Indian users will not be allowed to forward more than five chats at once.
Apart from restricting the number of forwarded messages to five, WhatsApp will also remove the quick forward button which appears next to the media messages.
WhatsApp has recently come under heavy criticism from the Indian government over the circulation of fake news and false information through its platform. It has been seen that these messages have incided violence among people leading to multiple lynchings throughout the country.
WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, has over one billion users worldwide. Out of them, 200 million users are from India. Users in India “forward more messages, photos and videos, than any other country in the world.”
The government, on Thursday, instructed WhatsApp to take effective measures to stop the issue of fake news beyond just labelling forwards. It also warned WhatsApp of facing legal consequences if they remain “mute spectators” and. It also said that mediums used for propagation of rumours are liable to be treated as ‘abettors.’
While the company is yet to respond to the notice, the blogpost said 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”.
“We built WhatsApp as a private messaging app – a simple, secure, and reliable way to communicate with friends and family. And as we’ve added new features, we’ve been careful to try and keep that feeling of intimacy, which people say they love,” it said.
Rumours on WhatsApp have sparked off a spate of incidents involving mob fury, including one where five men were lynched on the suspicion of being child lifters in Maharashtra’s Rainpada village of Dhule district.
More recently, a man was beaten to death, while three others were injured after a mob attacked them suspecting them to be child-lifters, near Bidar in Karnataka.
The Supreme Court too has asked parliament to consider enacting a new law to effectively deal with incidents of mob lynching, saying “horrendous acts of mobocracy” cannot be allowed to become a new norm.