WhatsApp is introducing new controls that allow you to limit who can add it to group messages. VentureBeat notes that the application now allows you to prevent people from adding you to groups if they are not a contact in your address book. Alternatively, you can prevent anyone from adding or leaving the option open to everyone.
The feature is a part of a series of changes that the service is making to try to prevent misinformation from spreading easily. The BBC reported that before the elections in Brazil last year, political activists used software to automatically add groups of people to politically motivated WhatsApp groups without their consent. Time reports that similar practices are widespread in India.
WhatsApp has already limited the number of times a message can be forwarded to five, and now the labels also forward messages to draw attention to them. Yesterday, the service launched a new data verification service in India that users can use to verify the accuracy of messages that have been sent.
Users that restrict who can add them to groups can be added by private invitation. They will receive a link, which provides basic information about the group they have been invited to, and they can choose to join it if they wish. Otherwise the link expires in 72 hours. Previously, a WhatsApp support page indicated that the only way to avoid being added to a group was to block the group's administration.
You can access the new configuration by going to Account Options in the configuration menu. Select Privacy, then Groups, and you can select who can exactly add you to a group. This gives you three options, No one, My contacts or All. The new WhatsApp group controls will be launched today and will be released to all users in the coming weeks.