WhatsApp is instrumental in the rapid spread of false messages and chain letters. Parent company Facebook is now responding by further restricting the forwarding of messages in a big to curb the spread of fake news surrounding COVID-19.
Recently we reported about burning 5G masts in the UK as a result of spreading coronavirus-related conspiracy theories. After Google took action against the spread of false reports and conspiracies via YouTube, Facebook is pulling along with its WhatsApp Messenger. In recent weeks, numerous fake news stories and chain letters with dangerous health tips about the coronavirus had been spread on the platform. After mass lynchings based on fake news were committed in India in 2018, Facebook took initial measures, restricted mass forwarding and marked forwarded messages accordingly. This allows message recipients to see that the message in question did not come from a direct – possibly untrustworthy – contact.
Data speeds have also been throttled
These marked messages can now only be forwarded to individual chats after being forwarded five times. By the end of March, WhatsApp had already had to adapt functions within the app due to the spread of the coronavirus and the resulting initial restrictions. In order to reduce WhatsApp’s data consumption in India (where the largest user density is) and thus relieve the Internet, the messenger limited one function related to status’. Where normally a 30-second clip is shown for 24 hours for contacts, WhatsApp limited the clip length to a maximum of 15 seconds. YouTube, Apple, and Netflix also limited data rates, as their streaming offerings can no longer be consumed automatically in the highest resolution, or not at all, but in standard resolution.
Everyone can do something against the spread of false news. How do you make sure you are not being misled online?