WhatsApp "horrified" at lynchings, will take steps against fake news

WhatsApp

WhatsApp "horrified" at lynchings, will take steps against fake news

Internet policy experts say WhatsApp doesn't have legal accountability and can not be held liable for the way people use it.

Simultaneously, the Congress targeted the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government and police, blaming them for failure to prevent the incident.

Police also imposed a curfew in the village and have deployed auxiliary forces, but the area remains on edge, the BBC reports.

They said that people from this community often pass though villages begging and they had been doing that when they were attacked.

One of the men was seen talking to a girl, which prompted questions from villagers that escalated into violence as more people gathered around, according to the newspaper.

Mistaking them to be child-lifters, a large number of villagers attacked them with sticks, stones and left them to die near the gram panchayat office.

Fact checking should be built into the interface of WhatsApp to avoid rumour-mongering, said Sunil Abraham, founder of the think tank Centre for Internet and Society.

When the police arrived, he added, the mob attacked them as well.

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Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis called the incident "unfortunate".

WhatsApp is offering research grants to social scientists to help it combat the spread of "misinformation" through the cross-platform messaging service.

The five who succumbed to their injured were identified as Bharat Shankar Bhosale, Dadarao Shankar Bhosale, Bharat Shankar Malwe, Agnu Ingole and Raju Bhosale.

What are the authorities doing about it?

The attack comes amid rumors on WhatsApp about gangs of child kidnappers spearing across the country. Local police even distributed pamphlets to educate people about the rumours. It is also testing the labeling of forwarded messages.

He underlined that social media companies like WhatsApp, which are reaping commercial gains from the Indian market, have to remain accountable and vigilant to prevent abuse of their platforms for the spread of risky and provocative messages. In June, police joined civilian protestors the southern city of Hyderabad to demonstrate against the spread of the rumors.

The same misinformation has since resurfaced, with attacks reported in at least 11 states recently. "I appeal everybody not to believe in such posts that are circulated on social media", he said.

Unlike social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook - in which posts are put on websites and can be broadly viewed online, based on users' privacy settings - WhatsApp works like traditional text messaging services or Apple's Messages app, with users messaging other people they know.

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