WhatsApp has announced it is placing new limits on the forwarding of messages.

The news arrives due to the increased potential of private messages spreading misinformation in the current climate.

From today, messages that have been identified as “highly forwarded” — namely sent through a chain of five or more people — can only be forwarded to one person.

This will reduce the speed with which information - and misinformation - moves through the app.

The company announced in a blog post: "We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers.

"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. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation."

The app first began experimenting with limiting the number of times a message can be forwarded back in 2018.

For much of the app’s existence, users could forward a single message to up to 256 people with a few taps.

The new limitations don't cover everything though. You can still forward the same message over and over again to different people. But WhatsApp has previously found that introducing more friction helps to slow the rate of forwarding overall.