Globally WhatsApp will restrict the number of forwards to 20 chats; in India it is testing a lower limit of 5 chats. Currently, users can access WhatsApp via their browser but would have to sync with their phones to send messages on their desktop/laptop. It has also undertaken initiatives that include education and advocacy efforts to curb fake news.
In simple terms, it means that the security flaw can allow hackers to alter someone's reply in a group chat, as well as change the identity of a message's sender when the "quote" feature is used. The loophole has been spotted by cybersecurity enthusiasts at Check Point Research and can occur due to a vulnerability that exists between Whatsapp for Web and WhatsApp app for user's smartphones. But the very fact that such an attack can be performed is terrifying and can be damaging to the Facebook-owned Chat messenger and its user base.
In Parliament Wednesday, minister of state for information technology S.S. Ahluwalia said the Centre has no plans to tap into the messages of private citizens, but it has asked WhatsApp to inform it of the various measures undertaken to deal with fake news.
There had been a spate of incidents of lynching in the country connected to fake messages on social media platforms, mainly through WhatsApp.
Following calls from the government to stem the platform's misuse, WhatsApp has moved to deter mass message forwards and launched an advertising campaign to educate consumers.
Businesses will also only be able to send messages to people who contact them first.
WhatsApp confirmed that it has begun rolling out its forward message limit in India, which is its biggest market at 200 million users, according to news agency IANS.
"We are deeply committed to your safety and privacy which is why WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, and we'll continue to improve our app with features like this one", the company had said in a statement earlier.
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