Limiting the number of forwards a single message can have on WhatsApp might not be the final solution for misinformation in the app, as users might have thought.
Months ago, after countless reports of viral misinformation spreading on WhatsApp, the company announced it would limit to 5 the number of forwards allowed per message. It was seen as an effort to reduce the impact of false content. A study published at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Brazil this week reveals, however, that this limitation hasn’t been as effective at curbing viral hoaxes.
“(Limiting the number of forwards to) 5 is something WhatsApp chose to do. No one knows if they tested it (before applying it), or how effective that decision has been so far,” said Fabricio Benevenuto, a professor of computer science at UFMG, in a conversation with the IFCN. “That’s what we wanted to see in this paper.”
Benevenuto studies misinformation on WhatsApp and has developed a WhatsApp Monitor, which allows researchers to see what content has been shared the most on public WhatsApp groups in Brazil, India and Indonesia on any given day. He has written several articles about the messaging app, including one for The New York Times in 2018.
This week, his team concluded that while the decision of limiting forwards to 5 did, in some cases, delay the spread of information, it didn’t prevent the diffusion of highly viral content.
In countries where it is popularly used, WhatsApp has become a hub
Read more here: https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2019/whatsapp-efforts-to-curb-misinformation-arent-entirely-effective-research-shows/