With billions of people unable to see their friends and family in person due to COVID-19, people are relying on WhatsApp more than ever to communicate.
People are talking to doctors, teachers, and isolated loved ones via WhatsApp during this crisis. That’s why all your messages and calls on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted by default to give you a secure place for your most personal conversations.
Last year WhatsApp introduced users to the concept of messages that have been forwarded many times. These messages are labeled with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from a close contact. In effect, these messages are less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp.
It is now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time. As a private messaging service, WhatsApp has taken several steps over the years to help keep conversations intimate. For example, it has previously set limits on forwarded messages to constrain virality, which led to a 25% decrease in message forwards globally at the time. Is all forwarding bad? Certainly not. Many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful.
In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organise public moments of support for frontline health workers. However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation.
WhatsApp believes it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp as a place for personal conversation. In addition to this change, it is working directly with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information. Together these trusted authorities have sent hundreds of millions of messages directly to people requesting information and advice. You can learn more about these efforts, as well as how to submit potential myths, hoaxes and rumours to fact checking organizations, on our Coronavirus Information Hub.
WhatsApp believes that now more than ever people need to be able to connect privately. Their teams are hard at work to keep WhatsApp running reliably during this unprecedented global crisis. In the mean time it will continue to listen to feedback and improve ways for people to share information and communicate.