Jul 06, 2018

WhatsApp forwards are causing lynching incidents all over India

Image: WhatsApp forwards are causing lynching incidents all over India

    More than 30 people have been killed in India in the last three months, due to the fake news regarding child kidnappings, sexual predators and thieves spread like fire on social networking apps.

What happened on WhatsApp?

    WhatsApp, Facebook, and other social media are a great way of communication. They make our life easier and "connect" us with our friends and relatives. In recent times the Twitter was the huge platform of revolution in Egypt, Facebook, and other social media are also not far behind to bring the change in the society. But, it has a dark side too. The recent incidents that occurred across India put a question on the reliability and effect of social media. Fake news, rumors, political IT cells etc. all are making the situation worse.

Lynching incidents in 2018 so far:

May 2018: 
  • 10 May: 2 killed in Tamil Nadu.
  • 23 May: Man lynched in Bengaluru.
  • 6 killed in Andhra and Telangana in separate incidents.
June 2018:
  • 8 June: 2 lynched to death in Assam.
  • 8 June: 2 lynched in Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
  • 13 June: Man lynched to death in Malda, West Bengal.
  • 23 June: Man lynched to death in East Midnapore, West Bengal.
  • 26 June: 45-year-old beggar woman killed in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
  • 28 June: 3 lynched to death in Tripura in a single day, including a man hired by the government to go around dispelling rumors.
  • 1 July: 5 lynched in Maharashtra’s Dhule district.

Governments point of view:

    The government accused the messaging service of irresponsibility as false rumors are sparking all over India through WhatsApp. In a statement by MeitY ( Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology ) says, It has taken

"serious note of these irresponsible messages and their circulation in such platforms. Deep disapproval of such developments has been conveyed to the senior management of the WhatsApp and they have been advised that necessary remedial measures should be taken to prevent the proliferation of  these  fake  and at times motivated/sensational messages."

Govt. also reminded that,

"such platform cannot evade accountability and responsibility especially when good technological inventions are abused by some miscreants who resort to provocative messages which lead to the spread of violence"

WhatsApp's take on this:

    In reply, Whatsapp says in a letter to AFP,

"We're horrified by these terrible acts of violence and wanted to respond quickly to the very important issues you have raised,".

    Whatsapp will soon add a new label to their app which will help users to identify such rumors and marked them as suspicious when forwarding to others. They also work with Indian researchers for the better understanding of the problem. They extended their arms to help the Govt. by running awareness campaigns in the country.


Is WhatsApp is the real culprit?

    Among its total user base, WhatsApp has around 200 million living in India. For its huge influence, WhatsApp was singled out by MEITY. Besides, blaming tech companies, taking legal actions and spreading awareness (after an incident), Govt. don't have any specific roadmap to stop this. It is easy to influence people in a country with a population of around 1.3 billion. The one of the biggest reason is technology has arrived too fast in the hands of Indian citizens, without the knowledge required to use it.


What we can do on our side:

  • Don't forward messages without investigating them.
  • Tell people about the DOs and DON'Ts on the internet.
  • Spread awareness to people around you about the problems of forwarding messages.

Stay safe, and stop forwarding
Leave your comments below, if you have any information regarding this topic.

The image is taken from TNW.



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