WhatsApp beta tests limits on forwarding messages to group chats

WhatsApp is apparently introducing new limits on forwarding messages to other group chats in its iOS messaging app, a change that could help reduce the spread of misinformation.

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Social media platforms are known to be a hotbed for the spread of spam and misinformation, which can be easily shared with other users. In what appears to be an attempt to reduce misinformation, Meta-owned WhatsApp is beginning to test the limits of how messages spread.

Previously seen in a beta version of the Android app, WABetaInfo reports that the beta version of WhatsApp for iOS now has a feature that limits the distance a forwarded message can travel. While beta users can forward a message to a group chat once, that same message cannot be forwarded to more group chats.

A screenshot inside the app says “Forwarded messages can only be sent to a group chat.” The report adds that the limitation only applies to messages that have already been forwarded, meaning the original message writer can still send the initial message to other users without the same limit.

While the feature appears in the beta version of the messaging app, it is unknown when it will migrate to the public release. However, as it looks like more beta users will see it roll out in the coming weeks, it’s possible that it will go mainstream soon after.

Misinformation is a problem that tech companies have tried to tackle for years, and it’s also a problem that has caught the attention of lawmakers. In July 2021, senators attempted to introduce a bill that would remove Section 230 protections from social media companies that don’t do enough to prevent the spread of health-related misinformation.