22:37 GMT26 October 2020
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    In July this year, a message circulated on WhatsApp claimed that a group of child lifters were on the prowl in the Dhule area of Maharashtra. It was later established that the messages were fake and that five innocent persons had been lynched by angry mobs on the basis of the rumor.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): Acting upon the Indian government's instructions to curb the spread of rumors, WhatsApp India has now rolled out changes that will limit the amount of message forwarding. The action by the social media giant comes after a spate of mob violence and lynchings in India caused by WhatsApp-forwarded misinformation led to several deaths.

    READ MORE: One Fake Video, 29 Murders: Indian Gov't Springs Into Action

    "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," Facebook-owned WhatsApp's blog post read.

    More than 200 million people use the messaging service in India, making it WhatsApp's biggest market. Users in India forward more messages, photos and videos than any other country in the world. 

    On July 10, after being pulled up by the Indian government for failing to curb the spread of fake news and rumors,  WhatsApp tested a new feature that let users know if a message was a mere forward. The company also published full-page advertisements in Indian newspapers detailing ways and means to fight fake news.

    READ MORE: Lynching of Two Youths Over Fake Child Abduction Video Sparks Protests in India

    On Wednesday, WhatsApp announced the rolling out of its limit on forwarded messages to five chats.

    "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.

    In addition, the instant messaging app is also propagating a new video to educate its users, saying it is expanding its user education campaign on how to spot fake news and hoaxes.


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    mobbing, control, lynching, social media, rumors, WhatsApp, Facebook, India
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