Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

WhatsApp outlines steps to curb abuse of messaging platform

WhatsApp outlines steps to curb abuse of messaging platform

Victims were accused in the viral messages of belonging to gangs trying to abduct children.

In a similar incident in Tripura recently, two people were lynched and six others thrashed.

The incidents come as a grim reminder of the brutal lynching of two friends - Nilotpal Das, 29, and Abhijeet Nath, 30, - in neighbouring Assam's Karbi Anglong district after they were mistaken as child lifters by a mob of more than 200 people.

And who was responsible? It has begun an exercise to hire a massive number of executives in public policy and government affairs roles across the world including in India as it battles multiple governments over privacy and data sharing.

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The government had, on Tuesday, issued a stern warning to the social media platform asking it to take immediate measures to prevent the spread of "irresponsible and explosive messages".

The government directed the company to immediately contain the spread of such messages through application of appropriate technology, even as law and order machinery takes steps to apprehend the culprits.

The most recent incident occurred in Maharashtra, where five people were lynched on Sunday, although the role of a messaging platform in this case hasn't been established. Unfortunately, we can not blame a messaging app which is used worldwide, if the government itself fails to address the issues which are largely at play in the country.

Pahwa said it's impossible for WhatsApp to track and assess billions of messages being sent each day using its platform.

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The suspicions, of course, had been based on fake WhatsApp forwards.

At least 20 people have been killed in mostly rural villages across India in lynchings instigated by false information distributed on WhatsApp. But again, this isn't a WhatsApp problem. Nikhil Pahwa, a technology expert warned in a blog post on his site, MediaNama, that the India's "massive" fake news problem is "going to get worse".

Police forces in various parts of India claim to have been working for weeks to stop this rumor from making the rounds, but those efforts have clearly not had much of an effect.

Indian TV channels also reported that most homes were locked and lanes deserted in the village on Monday as most villagers fled to escape a police crackdown.

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India's government has been contemplating ways to control the rise of fake news without much success, leaving police departments around the country to combat it on their own by launching WhatsApp channels. New rules need to be implemented and the police in the country need better tools to cope with false content being spread as well.

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