Limitations on the forwarding of messages activated by WhatsApp in early April to stop the spread of false information related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) have taken effect. In a statement sent to TechCrunch, the company assures that the spread of “highly forwarded” messages across the platform has dropped by 70% globally over the past few weeks.
In that 70% of messages that have been forwarded through WhatsApp all kinds of viral content are included, from the usual humor videos to the dreaded hoaxes. To identify them, WhatsApp monitors the number of times that the same message is forwarded by different users. When this exceeds a certain limit, the platform qualifies it as “highly forwarded” and, therefore, limits the forwarding of said message through the service. Once active, users can continue to forward that message, but only to a single person, which slows down the spread of content and limits its reach.
A few days after activating the aforementioned limit, multiple social networks began to emerge theories that ensured that WhatsApp censored critical messages with the management of the Government of Spain. News verifying companies such as Newtral or Maldito Bulo were also involved in these theories. Given this situation, political parties such as VOX began promoting the use of Telegram as an alternative to WhatsApp, where viral messages can be forwarded without any limits.
Hours later, WhatsApp Publicly denied the aforementioned theories. The company applies a point-to-point encryption on all messages sent through its platform, so that only senders and receivers can know the content. Censorship, therefore, would not be possible even if WhatsApp so wished.
This It is not the first time that WhatsApp has taken measures against the spread of false information through its platform. In 2019, the company decided to limit the forwarding of messages to a maximum of five people in all countries of the world, which brought about a drop “of 25% in the forwarding of messages worldwide,” according to an official statement. .
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