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WhatsApp tightens message forwarding restrictions due to misinformation about corona

WhatsApp is tightening its limits on message forwarding even further, during a bid to stem the spread of misinformation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Facebook-owned messaging app is expanding on global measures it put in situ last year which restricted the amount of times people could expire frequently forwarded messages to 5 chats directly .

The company has now reduced the quantity of chats to which users can share frequently forwarded content to only one at a time. It announced the new changes during a blog post Tuesday.

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“We know many users forward helpful information, also as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful,” said WhatsApp. “In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to arrange public moments of support for frontline doctors .”

“However, we’ve seen a big increase within the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and may contribute to the spread of misinformation. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of those messages right down to keep WhatsApp an area for private conversation.”

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It comes after bogus conspiracy theories linking 5G mobile networks with COVID-19 seemed to inspire people to line fire to telephone masts within the U.K. Facebook told CNBC on Monday that it’s started deleting content encouraging attacks on cellular towers and 5G masts.

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The attacks resulted within the U.K. government urging social media platforms to require action to combat the spread of such false claims. British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is thanks to meet with tech companies in the week to grill them on 5G and coronavirus-related misinformation. CNBC understands that Facebook is about to attend the meeting.

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