Facebook imposes forwarding limit on Messenger to slow spread of misinformation

Facebook is imposing a forwarding limit on Messenger in a bid to slow the spread of viral misinformation and harmful content.

Users of the chat platform will only be able to send content to five people or groups at a time, mirroring similar efforts on the social network’s other messaging app WhatsApp.

The move comes amid continued concern about misinformation around coronavirus, with a recent report claiming social media giants are failing to remove dangerous anti-vaccination posts even when it is flagged to them.

“We are introducing a forwarding limit on Messenger to help curb the efforts of those looking to cause chaos, sow uncertainty or inadvertently undermine accurate information,” Jay Sullivan, director of product management for Messenger privacy and safety, wrote.

Facebook said the decision is “critical” as the global pandemic continues and with elections in the US, New Zealand and other countries on the horizon.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has also revealed wider steps to protect elections, including restrictions on new political ads in the week before the US election and removing posts that claim people will get Covid-19 if they take part in voting.

“This election is not going to be business as usual. We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy,” Mr Zuckerberg said.

“That means helping people register and vote, clearing up confusion about how this election will work, and taking steps to reduce the chances of violence and unrest.”

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