The limitations on message forwarding activated by WhatsApp in early April to stop the spread of coronavirus-related misinformation have taken effect. In a statement, the company said that the spread of “highly forwarded” messages through the platform has dropped by 70% globally over the past few weeks.
The 70% of messages that have stopped being forwarded through WhatsApp include all kinds of viral content, from the usual humorous videos to the dreaded hoaxes. To identify them, WhatsApp monitors the number of times the same message is forwarded by different users. When this exceeds a certain limit, the platform qualifies it as “highly forwarded” and then limits the forwarding of that message through the service. Once active, users can continue to forward the message, but only to a single person, which slows down the propagation of the content and limits its reach.