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WhatsApp tests limiting message forwarding after violent lynchings in India

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The lynchings occurred after the spread of misinformation

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

WhatsApp is considering curbing the amount of times you can forward messages to multiple chats, citing privacy concerns. The Facebook-owned app will begin a test that places a limit on message forwarding, it announced today.

Beyond the reasons WhatsApp listed, there are safety concerns involved for the spread of misinformation on the platform. The test comes after a series of violent mob lynchings in India were instigated by false messages about child abductions that were sent through WhatsApp. Last week, police arrested more than 48 people they said were part of the mob that killed a tech worker in southern India after the group suspected he was a child kidnapper due to fake messages they read on WhatsApp.

The test can appear for any WhatsApp user. In the press release, WhatsApp mentions that users in its biggest market, India, will see a limit of five chats at once. Globally, the limit will be 20 chats, according to the Indian Express. “We believe that these changes - which we’ll continue to evaluate - will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” WhatsApp said.