WhatsApp outlines its mission to keep you safe during COVID-19

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It includes tighter restrictions on message forwarding.
Photo: WhatsApp

WhatsApp on Tuesday outlined measures to keep its more than 2 billion users safe and secure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measures include tighter limits on message forwarding, and working with organizations and governments like the World Health Organization to help connect user with more accurate information.

“We believe that now more than ever people need to be able to connect privately,” WhatsApp said. “Our teams are hard at work to keep WhatsApp running reliably during this unprecedented global crisis.”

With millions of people stuck at home to curb the spread of the coronavirus, we’re relying on services like WhatsApp more than ever to keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues.

WhatsApp wants to ensure that during this time, it can provide us with “a secure place for your most personal conversations.” These are the steps it is taking to further bolster privacy and security.

WhatsApp steps up during COVID-19

WhatsApp is already pretty secure, thanks to end-to-end encryption that prevents others from gaining access to your messages. There are other things it must fight, however, like the spread of misinformation.

To do that, WhatsApp is tightening its message forwarding limits. Users will be able to forward content to only one chat at a time in an effort to prevent that mass spread of what might be spam.

“Is all forwarding bad? Certainly not,” WhatsApp said. “In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers,” and to share uplifting content.

“However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation,” the service explained.

So, it’s important for WhatsApp to do what it can to slow the spread of messages like these and maintain a safe place for personal conversation.

Asking the experts

In addition to this change, WhatsApp is working directly with organizations and government, including more than 20 health ministries, to help connect users with accurate information.

Its trusted partners have sent “hundreds of millions of messages directly to people requesting information and advice,” WhatsApp revealed. Visit WhatsApp’s Coronavirus Information Hub for more.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, joins other Silicon Valley giants doing their bit to protect users during the pandemic. Apple has made official coronavirus information easier to access in many regions, and made significant donations to help relief efforts.