Everyone knows how WhatsApp has become a household name. Its relevance in modern communication with the onset of the internet is not comparable. This free messaging service has however brought about many unwanted problems and issues on to the scenario. Take for example The recent lynching due to the fake news over WhatsApp. This has led to a lot of distrust, misinformation and problematic issues in the general public. This is more so because this triggers unnecessary violence and disturbs the social order.
What is the Need for WhatsApp to limit the Messages?
- A spread of rumors that have taken lives
- False forwards about kidnappers have instilled fear
- Provocative content that advertises hatred towards a sector community
The United States is the biggest market for WhatsApp and have over 200 million users that keep growing. This large base of the population is caught in a web of forwarding messages where one has no idea about the information. Factors like verification, authenticity and factual correctness are not tested by anyone. This has led to WhatsApp launching a forwarding limit on messages.
What are these changes for WhatsApp users?
- Application of a label – ‘forwards’ to forwarded messages: This will help identify doubtable content which is not original.
- Limiting the forwards to 5 users: This earlier was 250 and this will make those mass forwards a problem. It may also hit the proliferation of positive content but will definitely help in stopping the spread of fake news.
- Removing media forwards button: This will prevent those catchy media that contain fake news. While text messages can still be sent, the media ones cannot be spread in any condition.
This move has come from WhatsApp post pressure from the government for more effective solutions that can make law enforcement easier. They have made it clear that the medium for the propagation of such irresponsible and fake messages has as much liability in the issue. This means WhatsApp would have faced legal action if it continued acting as abettor when lives are at stake daily. WhatsApp has acted in time responsibly to deal with the situation. The Facebook-owned platform has responded post two letters by the Ministry of electronics and IT(MEITY). They have made it clear that they will be taking all future possible recourse to identify this false information based fake news and work effectively to address them. The ministry, in its statement to the press, declared that such sensitive issues deserved a more clear and serious response that should keep the core issue in mind.
They have also promised to look for more feasible solutionsto cope with these rumors. They plan to do the following-
- Coordinating with fact-checking organizations: This will monitor closely the false information and respond to it by declaring it false and providing correct information.
- They plan to use machine learning to identify accounts that generate these fake messages in high volumes.
WhatsApp has released its public statement to the newspapers where the aim to curb these misinformers and control these uprisings. They also seek partnership with the government, information agencies and the society in quelling the effects of fake news.
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