The hoaxes they have been a problem in Spain for years, but since the coronavirus crisis, they have become an even more serious problem. WhatsApp It is the perfect place for these hoaxes to circulate. Still, the messaging application introduced a few days ago a limit for messages that they had been forwarded more than five times, and could only be sent to one person. And, paradoxically, a hoax generated as a result of that has caused many people to go to Telegram.
The hoax emerged in the middle of last week, where not only did it move on Twitter, but some “serious” media also picked up the alleged news that the Government of Spain It had agreed with WhatsApp to limit the forwarding of messages. This is a lie, since a week ago we picked up the news, and this limit has been introduced worldwide because, unfortunately, Spain is not the only country where hoaxes are moving.
No, the Government is not limiting the forwarding of messages on WhatsApp.
In our country, have been members of Vox who have encouraged this hoax out of genuine interest. The party follows a strategy based on the polarization of society, where they try to control the debate and what is being talked about at all times, offering an extremist opinion that forces people to position themselves, and where they finally end up with a significant percentage of the views of that debate.
WhatsApp hoaxes, whether text, photos or videos, are a very effective way of generating this polarisation, and in addition to Twitter, WhatsApp is the ideal breeding ground for them. The content that is sent is usually false or taken out of context, where it seeks to piss off the population in a delicate situation like the one we are going through.
So the message forwarding limit did not sit well with Vox, whose primary strategy is based on controlling the message that reaches its followers. That is why they deny so much of journalists or traditional media, where they prefer to contact their supporters directly with the fewest number of intermediaries.
The party itself has not published any tweets associating the message limit to the Government, but members such as Iván Espinosa de Los Monteros have done so:
La migración que estoy observando de usuarios de Whatsapp a Telegram es masiva. Quizá porque se usan exactamente igual y no cuesta nada el cambio… y porque la gente está harta de que los progres pretendan controlarlo y censurarlo todo, hasta nuestros mensajes privados
— Iván Espinosa de los Monteros (@ivanedlm) April 12, 2020
And there Telegram plays a double key role. The first is that Vox already has a channel on the social network with almost 39,000 members at the time of writing this news (compared to the less than 30,000 it had last week), in which they can not only send any message they want to promote. They have no option to reply or criticism as it is a unidirectional transmission system. On Twitter, in many of his tweets, there are critical responses or debunking, but on Telegram, this cannot be done. Second, messages can be forwarded without limit by the application, and can even be sent on WhatsApp. The advantage of Telegram in this aspect is that it appears who has delivered the message when it is forwarded, being able to know where it comes from.
WhatsApp measures to end the hoaxes are effective, and the sign that they are a serious problem is that they have had to invent that it has been the Government of Spain that has limited the forwarding of messages shows how severe and dangerous this problem is. In our country. The party has called for people to switch to WhatsApp on Telegram, and thousands of people have joined the application these days. Interest in the app has also exploded on Google, having doubled its search volume this weekend, where it had already increased since confinement due to the use by teachers to contact students.
Newtral and MalditoBulo, also object of more hoaxes.
Another hoax that moved over the weekend was that Newtral and MalditoBulo filtered and limited messages on social networks, although nothing further from reality, that is impossible because the messages of the application are encrypted from end to end, and nobody can know what It sends. The only limited thing is the forwarding of viral messages because WhatsApp knows that a message has been forwarded more than five times, but it does not know what content that message carries.
The hoax originated because WhatsApp lists a series of means to contrast information in each country to prevent the spread of hoaxes, and Newtral and MalditoBulo are the most important ones dedicated to this work, especially the latter that help to root out the vast Most hoaxes that circulate in our country.
In short, the hoaxes are here to stay, and it is essential that you contrast the sources and do not believe everything that reaches your mobile; especially since there may be specific interests behind it. Only by having an informed society capable of contrasting information can we put a stop to this plague of hoaxes.
Update: official WhatsApp statement
WhatsApp has launched an official statement above all the commotion formed, in which they confirm again that “the limitation in the number of forwardings is worldwide to avoid the spread of erroneous information”. The forwarding limit applies when a message has been forwarded more than five times, and only one person or group can be forwarded at a time. This is not related to the content of the message since the company cannot see them because they are end-to-end encrypted.
Also, they talk about the International Fact Verification Network (IFCN) network, in which “they detail a series of verifiers that users can voluntarily access to test a possible hoax”, and They are not dedicated to censoring any type of message because nobody knows what we send.
The company adds that «WhatsApp introduced the new global forwarding limit to keep the service personal and private and to stop the spread of viral messages in the service, to keep users safe. It is not related in any way to fact-checking organizations, or “censorship,” and any suggestion to the contrary is 100% false. ”