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WhatsApp limiting message forwarding in effort to stop coronavirus misinformation

WhatsApp limiting message forwarding in effort to stop coronavirus misinformation
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WhatsApp announced Tuesday it will limit users's ability to forward messages in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus misinformation.

Last year, the Facebook-owned service marked messages that had been forwarded several times with two arrows, denoting that they were less personal compared to others.

On Tuesday, it introduced a new limit on such messages, making it so they can only be forwarded to one chat at a time.

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"Is all forwarding bad? Certainly not," WhatsApp said in a blog post.

"However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation," the company wrote.

WhatsApp also announced Tuesday that it is working with the World Health Organization and national governments to boost the visibility of vetted information about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The policy change comes after a group of Democratic senators sent a letter to Facebook about misinformation on WhatsApp.

"With over 2 billion users worldwide and widespread use of the app in the United States – particularly among the immigrant community – it is imperative that Facebook act to stop the spread of factually-inaccurate and outright dangerous information about the coronavirus via WhatsApp," Sens. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoHawley votes against anti-Asian hate crime bill Senate passes anti-Asian hate crimes bill Senate locks in hate crimes deal, setting up Thursday passage MORE (D-Hawaii), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisGOP sees immigration as path to regain power Senate confirms Gupta nomination in tight vote Earth Day 2021: New directions for US climate policy rhetoric MORE (D-Calif.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinCornyn, Sinema unveil bill aimed at confronting border surge US Chamber of Commerce comes out in support of bipartisan, bicameral immigration bill GOP sees immigration as path to regain power MORE (D-Ill.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden rebuffs Democrats, keeps refugee admissions at 15,000 Bottom line The Memo: Biden's five biggest foreign policy challenges MORE (D-N.J.) wrote to Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Apple approves Parler's return to App Store | White House scales back response to SolarWinds, Microsoft incidents | Pressure mounts on DHS over relationship with Clearview AI Facebook unveils new audio features Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference MORE.

The senators cited reports of misinformation spreading on the messaging service including an advisory claiming to be from the United Nation's Children Fund telling people to avoid cold foods and a claim that anti-malaria drug chloroquine phosphate has been approved to combat COVID-19.