Africa: Are the Days of WhatsApp Chain Messages Numbered?

Left: Opening WhatsApp. Right: An example of a chain message sent on WhatsApp debunked using a fact-checking site like
28 January 2019

Cape Town — "Saturday morning whatsapp will become chargeable. If you have at least 10 contacts send them this message." Sound familiar? This and more chain messages - many of which promise anything from discounts on Louis Vuitton handbags to good luck for the year or a health hazard warning - may become less frequent if WhatsApp has its way.

The Facebook-owned company announced that it will limit to five the amount of times users may forward a message. The move comes in an effort to curb "misinformation and rumors", Reuters reports. WhatsApp said in an official statement: "Today, we're launching a test to limit forwarding that will apply to everyone using WhatsApp. In India - where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world - we'll also test a lower limit of 5 chats at once and we'll remove the quick forward button next to media messages."

According to Naked Security, the move is a response to lynchings after a message sent to WhatsApp groups, which included a video of four men distributing chocolates to schoolchildren, resulted in one of the men getting attacked by a mob.

Users were previously able to forward a message to 20 people or groups. The change "will help keep WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts". Advertising scams rely on WhatsApp users forwarding a luring message to their contacts in return for supposed free vouchers or air time, or access to a list of people due to be paid money, Business Insider reports.

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: allAfrica

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.