WhatsApp for iPhone update introduces forwarding restrictions

WhatsApp has just rolled a new update for its iPhone users. The official release notes don’t mention a major change inside the upgrade – restricting forwards to just 5 people.

To recall, WhatsApp had announced that this was coming last month in an attempt to combat fake news. Version 2.18.81 of WhatsApp for iPhone will remove the quick forwarding shortcut which used to appear beside media messages.

WhatsApp for iPhone Forwarding Changes

This is a bit of a setback, so folks will just have to long press the photo/video and tap on Forward from the list of options. The extra step is meant to deter people from quickly sending spam or fake news to others, but it’s a fairly weak step since there is a workaround.

WABetaInfo says the other big change is that users can only forward a message to 5 people at once. This is a much stronger step since it could help curb the flow of annoying messages, but it’s again not a permanent solution. After all, someone could share a message in a group and reach several people at once.

WhatsApp has come under fire over the past few months for its role in spreading fake news, especially in the wake of mob violence that lead to dozens of people dying. These new changes come across more as roadblocks to spammers and not a complete solution.

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As reported by PTI, the government mostly agrees since it wants WhatsApp to trace these bogus messages and reveal who the perpetrators are behind them. The app isn’t keen to do that since this would go against its privacy policy and endanger folks like doctors and policemen who need complete privacy when discussing sensitive matters.

For now, WhatsApp is building a local team to tackle fake news in India. The government is still gunning for it to reveal more information about the people behind provocative messages, so it looks like this tug of war is going to continue for the foreseeable future.