WhatsApp is the world’s most popular chat app, with 1.5 billion people using it to connect with their contacts. The messaging platform regularly offers new upgrades to improve the experience. But the latest WhatsApp update has been branded an annoyance as it restricts the number of people you can share messages with.
WhatsApp has imposed strict limits on how widely messages can be shared.
This is an attempt to tackle the spread of fake news on the WhatsApp.
The move, effective from Monday, January 21, following a six-month experiment in India.
And WhatsApp has announced users around the world will be restricted to forwarding only five chats at any time.
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The previous messaging limit outside India was 20.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp first imposed the five-chat limit in India, its biggest market, in July last year.
WhatsApp’s vice-president for policy and communications, Victoria Grand, announced the new updates at an event in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The trial followed viral hoax messages resulting in more than a dozen killing from angry lynch mobs.
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Some of the victims were mistaken as paedophiles due to false rumours quickly disseminated via WhatsApp.
A statement released by WhatsApp said: “The forward limit significantly reduced forwarded messages around the world.”
And the chat app added the restrictions would help WhatsApp retain a private messaging platform for close contacts.
WhatsApp said: “This will help keep WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts.
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“We will continue to listen to user feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content.”
WhatsApp currently limits the number of people in a single chat to 256.
The lynchings placed WhatsApp at the centre of India’s fake news debate, with the Indian government demanding that the platform do more to stop the spread of misinformation.
WhatsApp has refused some requests by the Indian government, such as tracing individual messages.
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Yet WhatsApp is taking other steps to tackle the problem.
The platform is labelling messages that are forwarded rather than composed.
And WhatsApp is also taking out adverts to raise awareness of the issue of fake news.
Monday’s move further highlights how India, with more than 500 million internet users and nearly 900 million people yet to come online, is increasingly influencing how the rest of the world uses the internet.
Some of the largest tech giants, including Facebook and Google are increasingly trial new features in India before introducing them to the rest of the world.