In struggle for accurate information – viral WhatsApp messages reduced by 70%

On April 7 in a response to considerable increase in the number of forwarded misinformation about coronavirus disease WhatsApp imposed a Highly Forwarded Message limit. It means that users are permitted to send the same “viral” message only to one chat instead of five.

In private group chats people shared controversial medical advice or speculation about governments’ plans, just in case they could be useful. For example, a message that claimed that drinking or gargling warm water with salt or vinegar can wash coronavirus in stomach where the acid will kill the pathogen. The World Health Organization stated that there is no evidence that this practice eliminates coronavirus. Instead WHO acknowledges that there is some limited evidence that rinsing the nose using saline (salt water) may help people recover from a cold faster – but this has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.

Since WhatsApp put into place new limit, there has been a 70% reduction in the number of highly forwarded messages sent on WhatsApp globally.

The encrypted messaging app affirmed that it is cooperates with governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNDP to create trustworthy information sources for users, like Coronavirus Information Hub, a website for health workers, local governments and businesses, educators, community leaders and nonprofits aimed to provide accurate health information.

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