How Facebook Forwarding Restriction Can Limit Chain Spam

I know I know. Facebook is trying to do the right thing and limit spam on their network – it’s like saying I’m going to use this masking tape to patch up a hole in a nearby dam, but every one helps a little, right?

For those of you still using the social network – and even I sometimes wonder if this is the right move , given Facebook’s prominence as we get closer and closer to November electoral hell – Facebook is now borrowing a page from WhatsApp and restricting how content can be sent through Messenger.

As Facebook announced yesterday, the social giant will now allow you to forward a message to up to five people or groups at a time. Let’s deal with this a little.

First, this is not a complete ban on forwarding messages – as great as that may be. And don’t think that Facebook’s phrase “in one go” means that you can give your latest hyper-politicized “news” to five people, wait, and then tell it to five more people. Nope. You will receive five before they cut you off .

One bit that doesn’t make more sense is that this limitation only applies to those who use the Messenger’s redirect feature to share content. This will not stop you from simply spamming your friends, one by one, with a link to whatever propaganda material you are trying to highlight. (I think it would be much more useful if Facebook could just stop you from sharing content more than x times, period, but I suppose you could probably get around this with a URL shortener or other silly methods.)

Nonetheless, Facebook writes, “Limiting uploads is an effective way to slow the spread of viral misinformation and malicious content that can do real harm.”

While Facebook’s move isn’t a huge change, it could have an impact. As WhatsApp told TechCrunch, when it began limiting users’ ability to forward messages, “Globally, the number of heavily forwarded messages sent via WhatsApp dropped by 70%.”

“This change helps keep WhatsApp free for personal and private conversations. WhatsApp is committed to doing its part in the fight against viral messages, ”the spokesman added.

If only Facebook could turn its attention to all these terrible groups that post aggressive rhetoric, calls for extremist actions and other propaganda that is destroying society. How much better the online world can be!

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