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70% drop in highly-forwarded messages globally, says WhatsApp

WhatsApp seems to have been successful in adding friction to its platform: the traffic of “highly-forwarded” messages has reduced by 70% globally, ever since Facebook limited the further distribution of such messages to only one contact at a time, the company said in a statement. This was first reported by Business Standard.

The limit on forwards was introduced on April 7 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the misinformation about the disease. Highly-forwarded messages are those which have already been forwarded more than five times — forwarded messages are marked with double arrows. WhatsApp had first introduced forward limits in July 2018, after WhatsApp rumours led to a spate of mob lynchings across the country. The company limited forwards to 5 chats at a time, which it said reduced global forwards by 25%. It had also removed the forward icon next to media such as photos and videos, so that users would actually have to select the message and choose to forward the message.

WhatsApp’s Matt Jones, who leads the anti-spam engineering team at the company, had said over a year ago that “we’re not here to give people a megaphone, we’re here for private messaging,”.

WhatsApp is also soon rolling out group voice and video calls with up to 8 people, up from the previous limit of 4 people per call.

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