Lynching deaths: Govt warns WhatsApp to take action to curb rumours 

The govt has asked WhatsApp to take action to end the menace of spreading messages that impact the country’s law and order situation and ensure that the platform is not used for such activities

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter
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NH Web Desk

Finally pulling up social networking platforms for not doing enough, the government has warned the country’s largest social messaging app WhatsApp to take remedial measures to prevent the spread of fake news.

The government wants WhatsApp to take immediate action to end the menace of spreading messages that impact the country's law and order situation and ensure that the platform is not used for such malafide activities, said an official statement.

"Instances of lynching of innocent people have been noticed recently because of large number of irresponsible and explosive messages filled with rumours and provocation are being circulated on WhatsApp. The unfortunate killing in many states such as Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tripura and west Bengals are deeply painful and regrettable," the statement from the IT Ministry said.

It added: "While the Law and order machinery is taking steps to apprehend the culprits, the abuse of platform like WhatsApp for repeated circulation of such provocative content are equally a matter of deep concern."

WhatsApp, which has 200 million users in India, said in a statement to BoomLive, “ WhatsApp cares deeply about people’s safety and their ability to freely communicate. We don’t want our services used to spread harmful misinformation and believe this is a challenge that companies and societies should address. For example, we recently made a number of updates to our group chats and will be stepping up efforts to help people spot false news and hoaxes.”

The Government has pointed out to WhatsApp that such a huge platform cannot evade accountability and responsibility specially when good technological inventions are abused by some miscreants who resort to provocative messages which lead to spread of violence

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology 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 proliferation of these fake and at times motivated/sensational messages," the statement said.

The government has also directed that spread of such messages should be immediately contained through the application of appropriate technology.

It has also been pointed out that "such platform cannot evade accountability and responsibility specially when good technological inventions are abused by some miscreants who resort to provocative messages which lead to spread of violence."

WhatsApp had recently announced new changes which gives administrators on its platform the power to restrict members from sending messages and control who can change the group’s subject and icon. However, these new measures are simply not enough to control the menace of fake new.

However, It is clear that the recent incidents of mob violence has rattled the government. It started in Jharkhand last year in May 2017 when seven men were beaten to death in two separate incidents after messages in Hindi went viral on WhatsApp warning residents about a group of child-kidnappers.

with inputs from IANS

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