WhatsApp to cap message forwarding to 5 chats in India

WhatsApp to cap message forwarding to 5 chats in India

To curb fake news circulation

After the Centre expressed unhappiness over its failure to take effective steps to curb the spread of fake news, WhatsApp on Friday said it is restricting the users in India to limit the forwarding messages to five chats at once.

The company said it is launching a test to limit forwarding on the app. Besides it also said it will "remove the quick forward button next to media messages."

The test, once in practice, will curtail WhatsApp's services for over 20 million users in India.

For the global version of applications, the company may limit the maximum number of forwards to 20 other groups or people.

"In India — where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world — we'll also test a lower limit of five chats at once and we'll remove the quick forward button next to media messages," the company said in a statement. 

"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," the company said. 

The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in its second notice sent to the company on Thursday warned that mediums used for propagation of rumours are liable to be treated as "abettors" and can face legal consequences if they remain "mute spectators".

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 different parts of the country.

"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," the Facebook-owned company said.

"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," it added.