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Seen less coronavirus fake news recently? WhatsApp’s clampdown seems to be working

WhatsApp’s latest anti-misinformation measure seems to be having an effect. As of April 7, users have only been able to forward “frequently forwarded messages” to one conversation at a time.

Today, WhatsApp has announced that it has since recorded a 70% reduction in the number of “highly forwarded” messages sent on WhatsApp worldwide.

“WhatsApp is committed to doing our part to tackle viral messages,” a spokesperson for WhatsApp told Trusted Reviews.

“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. This change is helping keep WhatsApp a place for personal and private conversations.”

There’s an easy way to tell a regular forwarded message from a frequently forwarded message.

Frequently forwarded messages, which have been forwarded from one WhatsApp user to another at least five times, are denoted by a double arrow. Messages that have been forwarded fewer than five times, meanwhile, are labelled with a single arrow.

WhatsApp decided to introduce the limit after numerous coronavirus- and 5G-related hoaxes started spreading like wildfire on the platform.

Some of these lies were more convincing than others, and a common feature was an introduction along the lines of “This is from a NHS worker…”, or “A friend who works in parliament just told me…”

Related: 5G conspiracy theorists have damaged over 50 phone masts − including ones that emergency services rely on

“Is all forwarding bad? Certainly not. We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful,” WhatsApp wrote in a blog post earlier this month.

“In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers.

“However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”

Related: How to video call on WhatsApp

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