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Why does WhatsApp limit the transfer of messages to five recipients?

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By W.M - January 25, 2019

WhatsApp limit the transfer of messages

To combat rumors, false information, and scams, the email application limits since Monday the number of people to whom it is possible to transfer a message.

Finished the digital escapades of your uncle fan of shared jokes dozens of times. Or those of an acquaintance a little too interested in conspiracy theories. It will no longer be possible to forward messages to more than five people or groups on the WhatsApp messaging application. What does this actually change for users? And why impose such a limitation? The Figaro explains you.

What does this change for me?

WhatsApp is a mobile email application owned by Facebook. We can talk with one person, a bit like we exchange by SMS, or in groups. One of its most popular features is "forwarding". It allows a user to transfer messages from one discussion to another. This function is in theory intended to share information that would be tedious to copy/paste. For example, if Ines invites Camille, Morgane, and Caroline to dine at her house, but only sends her address to Camille, it will be easier for Camille to use the transfer function so that Morgane and Caroline also have the same. address of Ines. This option was so far limited to twenty people or groups. It could theoretically allow the transfer of a message to a very large number of individuals. A WhatsApp group can hold up to 256 people.

On Monday, WhatsApp announced to Reuters update on its mobile application. The transfer functionality will now be limited to five people or groups. This innovation is currently for the owners of Android smartphones; it will soon be imposed on iPhone users.

Is this new?

WhatsApp has repeatedly changed its "transfer" feature. Since last summer, all transferred messages are marked "transferred" and have a small logo in the shape of an arrow. The idea is that a surfer cannot be deceived, thinking that a transferred message was written by the person who sends it to him. In addition, this limit of the "transfer" function to five people had already been imposed on Indian users of WhatsApp for several months. India is one of the country's largest application markets, with 200 million users, out of a total audience of 1.5 billion people worldwide.

Why this limit?

It is no coincidence that India was the first market to test the limits of the "transfer" function of WhatsApp. The country is experiencing a serious problem of misinformation online, directly related to the use of the application. At least 20 violent lynchings were reported last year, following the spread of rumors by messages, including alleged kidnappings of children. Each time, the false information spread through the "transfer" function of WhatsApp, spreading alarmist messages and videos faked or taken out of context.

India is not the only country affected by the phenomenon. In Brazil, WhatsApp has also been accused of facilitating the massive spread of false information in favor of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, elected president at the end of 2018. On another note, many scammers are also taking advantage of WhatsApp's features to spread the news. Rogue links to many Internet users.

For Facebook, the owner of the application, the subject is not simple. Indeed, WhatsApp is not a social network. This is a private email, encrypted end-to-end: Mark Zuckerberg's company does not have access to the content of the exchanges between its users. Hence the solution to restrict the number of transfers. Failing to do a real job of moderating false information, a subject that embarrasses Facebook on its own social network.

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