Whatsapp has begun rolling out its forward message limit to five chats for over 200 million users in India.
It had announced this move back in July in order to help check the spread of fake news and misinformation on the platform.
People using Whatsapp in India will only be able to forward a message (text, photo and/or video) to five contacts or groups simultaneously. The limit is rolled out to Android devices and is expected to be released for iOS soon.
The Facebook-owned messaging app is facing scrutiny in India, after reports that viral video messages shared on the app resulted in lynchings, mob violence in some parts of the country.
The Facebook-owned platform last month announced to launch a test to limit message forwarding to five chats in India.
“The limit has started to appear this week for people in India who are on the current version of WhatsApp,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
WhatsApp said that with new changes, which it will continue to evaluate, “will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app”.
“We are deeply committed to your safety and privacy which is why WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, and we’ll continue to improve our app with features like this one,” it said in an earlier statement.
In addition, the instant messasing app also published a new video to educate its users, saying it is expanding its user education campaign on how to spot fake news and hoaxes.
“This week, WhatsApp is publishing a new video that explains the importance of the ‘forward’ label and calls users to ‘double check the facts when you’re not sure who created the original message,'” said the company.
People forward more messages, photos, and videos in India than any other country in the world.
WhatsApp will restrict the number of forwards to 20 chats (either individuals or groups) for global users while it is testing a lower limit in India of 5 chats.
Meanwhile, the Indian government is also pondering to devise a way to block the social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Telegraph during crisis situations. The Department of Telecom (DoT) has asked Indian telecom service providers to explore and suggest ways to block popular social media apps in the interest of the public during situations when the national security is under threat.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), however, said the government should look for “more effective” steps to curb fake news and maintain public order, instead of blocking mobile applications.
WhatsApp hopes that by limiting the number of forwards, it will keep the platform a private messaging app, and also stop misinformation from spreading quickly.