Facebook has announced a new restricting feature on the number of individuals and groups that users can share messages with on the social platform. The feature limits the number of people or groups to which you can send a message to 5.
This will make it harder and slower to send messages to large numbers of people or groups at a time and is designed to curb the spread of fake information.
“As a part of our ongoing efforts to provide people with a safer, more private messaging experience, today we’re introducing a forwarding limit on Messenger, so messages can only be forwarded to five people or groups at a time.”Facebook
Facebook is introducing this feature after Whatsapp has had it for a while. In 2018, the company added forwarding restrictions to Whatsapp which limited the number of groups to which a message can be sent to 5. This was in response to the continuous cases of violence that occurred because of fake news that was spread via the chat platform.
According to Whatsapp, the forwarding limit has served to reduce the rate at which people circulate messages by 70%. Facebook, however, has seen a dramatic rise in people’s use of it to spread misinformation, particularly about the COVID-19.
Between April and June, the company said it removed about 7 million posts that misinformed people about the COVID-19. It said it also added labels to 98 million posts that its fact-checkers found to be false. Still, unverified news about the COVID-19 continues to spread.
In July, a video by Stella Immanuel, a US-based African medical practitioner, went viral claiming that she used a mixture of Zinc, Zithromax and Hydroxychloroquine to treat about 300 patients and recorded no death emerged. The video gained 18 million engagements on Facebook before getting noticed and pulled down.
It takes some time before Facebook is alerted to messages that spread fake or unverified news. And in cases like Stella Immanuel’s video, the messages get significant traction before any measure is taken against them.
Facebook’s forwarding limits on messages will slow the pace at which information is circulated, and reduce the volume of engagement it can get.
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