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WhatsApp fights the spread of deadly fake news with recipient limit

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As of July 2018, dozens of mob lynchings sparked by rumors – many about child abduction – that had been spread virally on social media had led to 33 deaths and at least 99 injured in 69 reported lynchings. The wave of violence tore through countries including Myanmar and Sri Lanka but was mostly in India.

At least 18 of those incidents were specifically linked to WhatsApp.

In an effort to limit the type of message forwarding that fuels such fake-news wildfires, in July WhatsApp launched a test in which it limited forwarding of chats to 5 people in India, where people forward more messages, photos and videos than any other country in the world.

WhatsApp also imposed a larger limit globally of 20 recipients. At the same time, WhatsApp also removed a quick-forward button next to media messages in India, and it added a feature to more clearly label forwarded messages.

Now, the private-messaging app is taking those changes, including the lower limit of 5 forwarded messages,...(continued)

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