One of the latest changes to popular messaging application WhatsApp is a crackdown on the number of contacts to whom you can forward the same message. During an event held in Indonesia recently, the Vice President of WhatsApp said, “We’re imposing a limit of five messages all over the world as of today.”

Prior to this change, there was a larger limit on duplicate messages, allowing you to forward them to up to 20 different contacts. This change comes hot on the heels of a trial system that launched in July 2018, in India, limiting users to only 5 duplicate messages. And now, it’s rolling out worldwide.

WhatsApp cracks down on misinformation

The change to duplicate messaging comes as a result of the corporation looking to reduce the spread of ‘fake news’, or as they put it, reduce the instance of ‘misinformation and rumors‘. Forwarding limits were originally implemented in India due to the spread of rumours through the social media platform. Shockingly, these types of messages have far more serious implications in countries such as these, and had even led to attempted killings and lynchings.

But now, the changes are being rolled out across the world. Starting from this week, the update is beginning to roll out globally, bringing the new limitations to users in every country. It’ll be Android smartphone users that receive the update first, before it is rolled out to iOS (iPhone) users.

In countries like the UK, this change will have an altogether different benefit. With the rise of online fraud, and phishing text messages and emails, this change to WhatsApp should reduce the chance of scams spreading throughout the country. Take the ‘WhatsApp Gold’ scam, which we reported on back at the start of this month. And we saw similar attempts to defraud users of WhatsApp on Black Friday last year, as well as a fraudulent survey that circulated on Cyber Monday at the end of 2018, which hoped to steal your personal information.

Fortunately, once this change comes into effect with users around the globe, unsuspecting victims who buy into scam messages will only be able to forward them onto a quarter of the contacts that they could’ve done previously, meaning less potential victims, and less potential links in the chain.

Avoiding scams in WhatsApp

Avoiding the potential scam messages in WhatsApp follows the same principle of avoiding malicious messages in other platforms such as emails. You shouldn’t trust suspect messages and links that are sent by third parties — and crucially, you should also be wary of messages that come from contacts you would normally trust. Even a friend or family member could send you a malicious link if they’ve mistaken it to be a genuine message.

If a message looks too good to be true, then it probably is. If you’re promised free products in return for filling in a form, then chances are it’s just a ruse to capture your personal information .

And if a message promises you that something will happen when you forward it on — for example, a friend’s hidden statuses being revealed — then don’t believe what it’s telling you. There are no magic effects behind chain messages and you’ll just be helping to spread the scam.

If you have any doubts over what to look for and how to avoid suspect messages on the most popular messaging app around, then give WiseGuys a call on 0808 123 2820.