WhatsApp limits message forwarding to combat hoaxes

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WhatsApp limits message forwarding to combat hoaxes

The messaging app says misinformation has exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those over 65 years of age, most prone to its dissemination

Disinformation worries and also has very long legs. It is a fact that confirms even science: fake news they spread faster than the truth. They engage, generate more interaction, and share even more. He knows it even in Massachusetts. And it is not a saying but the conclusion of its Technological Institute (MIT, in the USA). A simple tweet or WhatsApp message can wreak havoc with just a few characters, and the speed at which stories can travel the world via the Internet is breathtaking.

Precisely the messaging app, which in this time of confinement is seeing how his consumption has exploded thanks to video calls, audios and messages, has taken a further step in his artillery to combat ‘spam’, hoaxes and disinformation. To the measures adopted in the past to face this digital scourge, it adds a new feature: from now on messages can only be sent once per chat. In this way, the platform tries to avoid overwhelming referrals that may contribute to spreading disinformation.

In this way, the company says in a statement, the limitation to five chats will be pushed to the background, the messages forwarded to fight against hoaxes and restrict their virality that was launched last year. This time it will limit forwarded messages so that they can only be sent once per chat. After introducing the limits to the forwarded messages, the platform explains that it has registered a “25% decrease in the forwarding of this type of words worldwide these messages have long appeared with a double arrow that indicates that their origin is not close contact.

“We know that many users forward useful information, as well as funny videos, memes and reflections that they consider significant,” the company said in a statement. However, they have seen “a significant increase in the number of forwardings that users find can be overwhelming and can help spread disinformation.”

The National Police has detected more than 200 hoaxes about the coronavirus, something they remember daily at press conferences. The institution itself recently released a guide against tricks and fake news related to the pandemic. The recommendations consist of know the source of the story, contrast it through official sources, be wary of corporate images which sometimes seek to make the hoax official, identify whether it is an opinion or objective information and above all, not share it if there is suspicion that it is fake news.

Those over 65 years of age, most prone to its dissemination

The company has recalled its collaboration with NGOs and governments, the World Health Organization and more than 20 ministries of health to send messages directly to the population and to avoid the dissemination of hoaxes on the platform, something for which it counts through its parent company Facebook with an information centre on COVID-19.

This hoax pandemic virally distributed through social networks have their primary focus on those over 65. That doesn’t have to do with millennials being free from sin. Still, millennials are much more likely to share false news, according to a study by researchers at Princeton University and New York University.

“It is not that they are more likely to fake viral news because they are older, but because they have arrived in the world of new technologies after the rest and, like everyone else, they need time to become familiar and build digital skills», Points out the researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) of the UOC Andrea Rosales.

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