WhatsApp will only allow forwarding messages in five chats in a new attempt to limit fake news

Bolsonaro won the Brazilian elections with the help of WhatsApp. This is what at least several organizations – such as the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper – suspected that they associated that victory with the bulk forwarding of fake news via WhatsApp to attack the campaign of his opponent, Fernando Haddad.

The effect of social networks on these campaigns is increasingly evident, and WhatsApp now wanted to put a stop to such tactics: they have announced that from now on Messages can only be forwarded to five chats at most.

Against fake news and spam

This type of measure is not new: this year two previous changes were made to modify an increasingly important feature of the service. In July an option was activated that made each forwarded message would appear identified precisely as “forwarded” who received it.

Shortly after, another noticeable change would appear: the number of forwardings was limited to 20 groups (5 in India), but it seems that the restriction that was activated in the Asian giant ended up convincing those responsible for WhatsApp, that they have changed that policy again.

From now on it will only be possible to forward a message to five chats, without more. This limit is much more consistent with WhatsApp’s attempt to avoid using the tool for spam campaigns and, of course, for mitigate the problem of fake news (fake news) and misinformation that spreads through this platform.

Elections through the social network

The impact of social media on election results was felt in the 2016 US presidential campaign. wave of fake news and misinformation that spread through Facebook was fundamental according to analysts and studies for the victory of Donald Trump. Attempts to manipulate political campaigns were recently detected in the legislative elections of this country.

WhatsApp will only allow forwarding messages in five chats in a new attempt to limit fake news

The same has happened according to other analysts in Brazil with the victory of the controversial Jair Bolsonaro in the recent elections in Brazil, and it is evident that the tool is being used for these types of areas, and is doing it with dramatic consequences like those that happened in the recent lynchings in Mexico.

The enormous popularity of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp has made these platforms the main sources of information for many users. A recent study by the Pew Research Center showed how in the United States 20% of adults already inform themselves through these platforms when 16% do so through printed newspapers. Television continues to be the reference platform for information.

The WhatsApp movement is a new attempt to fight against this type of misuse of the platform. It is feared for the role that this type of platform may have, for example, in a dozen electoral processes that will take place in Africa in 2019, and that new forwarding limit could help mitigate the problem by making it more difficult for disinformation campaigns to spread.