WhatsApp is imposing stricter limits on how widely its users can share messages in a bid to crack down on the spread of false information.
Following a six-month experiment in India, the messaging platform announced on Monday that it will restrict users globally to forwarding a message to only five chats at a time. The previous limit outside India was 20.
WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook (FB), first imposed the five-chat limit in India — its biggest global market — in July after viral hoax messages resulted in more than a dozen lynchings. Many of the victims were mistaken as child abductors because of false rumors spread via WhatsApp.
The lynchings placed WhatsApp at the center of India’s fake news debate, with the Indian government demanding that the platform do more to stop the spread of misinformation. While WhatsApp has refused some of the government’s requests, such as tracing individual messages, it has taken other steps like labeling messages that are forwarded rather than composed by the sender and taking out ads to raise awareness of the issue.
Monday’s move further highlights how India, with more than 500 million internet users and nearly 900 million people yet to come online, is increasingly influencing how the rest of the world uses the internet.
Silicon Valley’s biggest firms, including Facebook, Google (GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN), Uber and Tinder, frequently test new features in India before rolling them out to their users globally.