Jan 22, 2019

WhatsApp targets fake news by limiting message forwarding

WhatsApp is limiting message forwarding. Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Facebook's secure messaging app WhatsApp announced Monday that it would cap the number of people a user could forward a message to at 5 in an attempt to prevent false stories from spreading too quickly.

Why it matters: U.S. WhatsApp users are probably most familiar with false allegations inflaming the political climate. That's bad, but nothing near as bad as what's happened in India, where rumors have lead to lynchings.

What they're saying: “We’re imposing a limit of five messages all over the world as of today,” Victoria Grand, WhatsApp vice president for policy and communications, told Reuters, announcing the change in Indonesia.

Because WhatsApp is encrypted in a way that not even Facebook can read the messages — thus preventing oppressive regimes from subpoenaing Facebook for the messages — there aren't many good options to moderate links and other content from propagandists or well-meaning-but-incorrect uncles.

Go deeper: WhatsApp bans Brazilian frontrunner Bolsonaro’s son amid fake news fears

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America's future looks a lot like Nevada

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Today's Nevada caucus will foreshadow the future of American politics well beyond 2020.

Why it matters: The U.S. is in the midst of a demographic transformation, and the country's future looks a lot like Nevada's present. Today's results, in addition to shaping the 2020 race, will help tell us where politics is headed in a rapidly changing country.

Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and U.S. ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. Meanwhile, Italy reported its first virus-related death on Friday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,359 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 14 hours ago - Health