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WhatsApp to limit the number of message forwards. File Photo   | Photo Credit: Reuters

To address the profusion of fake news being spread through forwards, and the government’s growing discontent with WhatsApp in tackling the issue, the messaging platform on Thursday said it is experimenting with a limit on the number of chats a message can be forwarded to.

In India, WhatsApp is trying a limit of five chats, as against 20 for the rest of the world. The current limit is 250 chats. 

The company said it would also experiment with removing the quick forward button next to media messages in India. “Today, we’re launching a test to limit forwarding that will apply to everyone using WhatsApp,” the company said in a blog post on Thursday. 

“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 5 chats at once and we’ll remove the quick forward button next to media messages.”

“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,” WhatsApp added.

The limit on the number of chats a message can be forwarded to is yet another step taken by WhatsApp to curb the menace of fake news and rumours being spread using its chatting platform. 

Earlier this month, the company also launched a test of a feature that would label forwarded messages as such, thereby distinguishing them from private messages.

The issue gains prominence in the light of the string of lynchings taking place in India sparked off by fake news items regarding child kidnappings being spread on WhatsApp.

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