WhatsApp in India has come under scrutiny after forwarded messages on the platform have allegedly incited mob-fury, triggering multiple cases of lynching across the country, where there are more than 230 million monthly active users. As WhatsApp has noted in its blog post that India does the maximum number of forwarding of audios, videos and text messages compared to other countries so the maximum limit of chats is 5 in India and 20 outside the country.
In response to that criticism, WhatsApp said it was "horrified" by the violence and announced changes that it said would reduce the spread of unwanted messages. Another restriction only for users is India is the removal of the "quick forward" function.
WhatsApp has received flak from the Indian government over fake news and false information being circulated on its messaging platform.
The messaging giant is also taking steps to limit how many people you can forward messages to. The messaging platform has responded to the government letter saying that it will use a mix of technology along with new features to identify forwarded messages and work with fact checkers and academia to address the isue.
False messages about child abductors on WhatsApp have led to mass beatings this year of more than a dozen people in India, some of whom have died. "When rumours and fake news get propagated by mischief mongers, the medium used for such propagation can not evade responsibility and accountability", the government said, adding, "If they remain mute spectators, they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action".
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With this new feature in place users won't be able to forward a single message more than five times on any group or with individual users. The ministry has also requested that the industry's payments overseer, the National Payments Corporation of India, confirm that WhatsApp is fully compliant with its requirements, they said.
What else other than the forward limit?
It bought full-page adverts in Indian newspapers with tips on how to spot misinformation.
The messages on the platform are said to be end-to-end encrypted.
Four days after a software engineer was lynched by a mob over child lifting rumours that were spread on social media, including WhatsApp, in Bidar in Karnataka, the Centre warned the Facebook-owned company Thursday that it could face legal action "if they remain mute spectators" when rumours and fake news are propagated through such mediums.