Whatsapp is rolling out a new optional feature that allows only administrators to send messages to the group, the company announced. If the administrator selects this setting, called “Only Admins”, only they will be allowed to publish to the group — they can allow others to publish by adding them as administrators. A WhatsApp spokesperson told The Indian Express that this new setting can help reduce “unwanted forwards into important group conversations”.
The rollout assumes significance in India given that many WhatsApp groups have been linked to the spread of rumours and unverified information that has also led to violence. Experts say that with this new tool, the administrator now has the power to restrict who can publish on the group. This is expected to open the administrator’s role to higher levels of scrutiny.
“One way people use groups is to receive important announcements and information, including parents and teachers at schools, community centers, and non-profit organizations. We’ve introduced this new setting so admins can have better tools for these use cases,” the company said in a statement.
Over the past couple of months, at least one WhatsApp representative has met with various stakeholders in India, including the Digital Empowerment Foundation, and begun talks to fund academic research regarding misinformation on the platform. The company will soon announce a new head in India operations.
The spokesperson said the company has begun to use reports of spam to study its origins and is focusing on how to target those who use the platform maliciously at scale and in an automated way.