Facebook attempting to close the WhatsApp stable door, after the viral horse has bolted

WhatsApp rolls out a worldwide move to try and limit the spread of disinformation.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Today in a social media story you should probably be paying attention to: Facebook is scrambling to lock down the biggest abuse of another of its platforms, WhatsApp. Reuters:

WhatsApp is limiting worldwide the number of times a user can forward a message to five, starting on Monday, as the popular messaging service looks to fight “misinformation and rumors”, company executives said on Monday.

A first move, but probably not enough of one yet. While in the Anglophone world we've been obsessing over Facebook-spread misinformation, in other countries — notably India and Myanmar — WhatsApp has been the major culprit.

It may be happening in other countries, too. But the very nature of WhatsApp as a closed messaging environment makes it very hard to tell. I wouldn't bet against Facebook having to deal with a WhatsApp-based scandal in the US or Europe this year. The co-founder of the messaging app quit his role at Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica story last year.


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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.