Rumors and false messages circulating on WhatsApp about child abductors have triggered mass beatings of more than a dozen people in India — resulting in the death of at least three people.
Government authorities have confirmed that the spate of lynchings in India have been sparked by false rumors shared on Facebook Inc-owned WhatsApp platform and it has also accused the messaging service of irresponsibility. India’s IT ministry has issued a stern statement in this regard in which it expressed the government’s “deep disapproval” to the senior management of WhatsApp over the “irresponsible and explosive messages”.
In reply to this, WhatsApp wrote a letter to the Indian government, saying it “cares deeply about people’s safety” and had taken steps to combat the scourge of fake news and hoaxes. The attacks — usually targeting outsiders and settlers — have left Indian authorities scrambling to mount an effective response, with awareness campaigns and public alerts having limited effect.