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WhatsApp is putting a worldwide limit of five on the number of times a message may be forwarded in an effort to stomp out misinformation and the spreading of rumours.

"Starting today, all users on the latest versions of WhatsApp can now forward to only five chats at once, which will help keep WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts," the company said in an update to a blog post, confirming a Reuters report.

WhatsApp users could previously forward a message 20 times.

The messaging platform, which has around 1.5 billion users, has been trying to find ways to stop misuse of the app. The new update, to be rolled out on Monday, follows recent events around the world using the app for misinformation and the spreading of rumours.