Facebook says it’s imposing a new forward limit on its Messenger platform to stem the growing tide of viral misinformation ahead of the presidential election. The social network is now rolling an update that will restrict users from forwarding a message to no more than five people at a time, a significant downgrade from the service’s previous ability to forward messages to 150 chats.
Jay Sullivan, the executive responsible for Messenger’s privacy and safety, said in a blog post that the company is introducing a forwarding limit to “help curb the efforts of those looking to cause chaos, sow uncertainty or inadvertently undermine accurate information.”
“Limiting forwarding is an effective way to slow the spread of viral misinformation and harmful content that has the potential to cause real-world harm,” he added. Users who reach this threshold while forwarding a message will be shown a new alert on the Messenger app that reads: “Forwarding limit reached.”
The move comes months after Facebook rolled out a similar limitation for its other messaging app, WhatsApp. Earlier this year in April, WhatsApp added a new restriction for messages that have been already shared five times or over. This was on top of WhatsApp’s existing five-chats forward limit. The Facebook-owned messaging service claims these restrictions have led to a 25% decline in message forwards globally.
Alongside the new Messenger limit, Facebook today also announced it will stop accepting submissions for new political ads in the week preceding Election Day. “In the final days of an election, there may not be enough time to contest new claims. So in the week before the election, we won’t accept new political or issue ads,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.
In the run-up to the forthcoming presidential election, Facebook has rolled out measures to curb hate speech and misinformation. Last month, the social network launched its voter information hub which offers resources on a wide variety of election-related topics such as relevant links to register as a voter, requesting absentee or mail-in ballots, “well-sourced news,” and verified posts from state election officials and other nonpartisan civic organizations.
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