It may not yet have that unified messaging platform that it rumored to be so eager to have, but Facebook is at least trying to unify some of behaviors across its various social networks. Earlier this year, its instant messaging property WhatsApp started to put caps on how many times a message can be forwarded and now Facebook is doing the same for its own Messenger all for the sake of curbing misinformation.
Just like email chains of old, Forwarding messages is so easy many people take it for granted how potentially harmful they can be. Not everyone takes the time to analyze the contents of a message, especially if it comes from someone they trust. That makes it too only too easy to spread false information simply on the weight of the sender who may not even know where the message originally came from.
WhatsApp had that problem to a massive and dangerous scale last year and put a cap on how many times a message can be forwarded and how many people it can be forwarded to. A few months ago, it put even stricter caps because of the sudden surge of misinformation being spread about COVID-19.
Facebook now faces those same problems, this time with a more political bent. As the US and some countries head towards major elections, the social network is naturally worried that it will once again be the vehicle for election meddling and other activities that will once again land it in hot legal waters. To prevent that from happening in the first place, it is putting limits on forwarding messages in its own Messenger.
Now Messenger can only forward messages to five people or groups at a time but Facebook doesn’t mention any further limits aside from that. Of course, Facebook has a bigger problem that Messenger alone as its main platform is also prone to the spread of misinformation or, worse, dangerous information, especially during these uncertain times. It does try to weed out such posts but the number that get past its eyes are still frighteningly large.