This new WhatsApp feature will stop your mum from spreading so much fake news

Shout out to all the boomers sending around messages saying you can cure coronavirus with hot drinks. Thanks huns.

by Roisin Lanigan
07 April 2020, 10:31am

Here’s a new coronavirus-themed drinking game I just made up: take a shot every time your mum forwards you a message claiming that you can cure coronavirus by drinking tea and holding your breath for 10 seconds. Try not to die of alcohol poisoning.

But seriously, you’ve probably already noticed that there's a lot of coronavirus fake news flying around WhatsApp in our current uncertain end-times. Whether it’s a forwarded message about plans for the army to descend on the streets of London, or how 5G towers are the true cause of the virus, misinformation on the messaging platform is rife. And now the company is finally taking action to stop boomers believing everything they read. Good, right? Kind of.

From now on, WhatsApp will be limiting the amount of times you can forward a message, in an attempt to combat the spread of COVID-19-related fake news. Under the new limitations, if a user receives a frequently forwarded message (one marked by a double arrow), they will only be able to forward it on to a single chat at a time. Previously, you could forward messages to five chats at once, which was great fun for both gossiping and sharing emoji chain letters to 10 of your hottest, thiccest friends.

“Is all forwarding bad? Certainly not,” WhatsApp said in a statement. “We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organise public moments of support for frontline health workers. However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”

The new limitation is part of a push by the private messaging app, which is owned by Facebook, to combat scams and spam. In addition to forwarding restrictions, they’ve also introduced a “coronavirus hub” page which includes advice for healthcare professionals, teachers, charities, local businesses and local governments.

“We believe that now more than ever people need to be able to connect privately,” WhatsApp continued. “Our teams are hard at work to keep WhatsApp running reliably during this unprecedented global crisis. We’ll continue to listen to your feedback and improve ways for people to share with each other on WhatsApp.”

So you’re safe from Karen’s chain messages. For now.

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