Fake WhatsApp message costs several lives to mob lynchings: ABP investigation

New Delhi: Over 30 people have been killed in the past one year by lynch mobs after rumours of child lifting triggered via messages on WhatsApp. This message was forwarded by people without knowing if it was authentic or not. The message went viral and lead to many deaths.

ABP News investigates if people forward such messages or try to filter before sending any such texts.

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Meanwhile, the Centre has issued a warning to the instant messaging app ‘Whatsapp’, in the wake of killings taking place across the country due to rumours that circulate via the app.

“The abuse of platform like WhatsApp for repeated circulation of such provocative content” is of deep concern to the Government of India. The ministry has taken note of these incidents as well as the circulation of provocative rumours being spread on the platforms,” an official note from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology read.

The senior management of the WhatsApp has been informed of the incidents and ruckus created by such circulated messages and have been instructed to take remedial measures to immediately contain the proliferation of the fake messages, it added.

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The Ministry also pointed out that such a platform cannot evade accountability and responsibility especially when good technological inventions are abused by some miscreants who resort to provocative messages which lead to spread of violence.

Last week, five people were lynched to death by villagers in Maharashtra’s Dhule district after videos of child lifters were actively circulated on a WhatsApp group.
A similar incident was reported from Tripura, wherein one person was lynched while two others were injured after a mob suspected them to be child lifters.

According to media reports, over 30 people have been killed in the past one year by lynch mobs after rumours of child lifting triggered via messages on WhatsApp.

In Mid-May, said WhatsApp, it added new protections to prevent people from adding others back into groups which they had left — a form of misuse we think it is important to correct.

“Last week, we launched a new setting that enables administrators to decide who gets to send messages within individual groups. This will help reduce the spread of unwanted messages into important group conversations – as well as the forwarding of hoaxes and other content,” the popular messaging platform noted.

WhatsApp has also announced a new project to work with leading academic experts in India to learn more about the spread of misinformation.

“The fact-checking organisation Boom Live is available on WhatsApp and has published some reports on the source of the rumours that have contributed to the recent violence,” the company said.

While WhatsApp messages can be highly viral, the way people use the app is by nature still very private.

“Many people (nearly 25 per cent in India) are not in a group; the majority of groups continue to be small (less than 10 people); and nine in 10 messages are still sent from just one person to another,” WhatsApp informed.

The company also asked to Indian government to talk further about the actions it is taking and its plans going forward.

“With the right action we can help improve everyone’s safety by ensuring communities are better equipped to deal with malicious hoaxes and false information — while still enabling people to communicate reliably and privately across India,” it noted.

WhatsApp also announced to soon start an engagement programme with the law enforcement officials across the country so “they are familiar with our approach and how we can be helpful”.

Siasat Web Team with agencies inputs