A series of mob lynching incidents in India recently “rattled” the Central Government prompting authorities to call up WhatsApp to take steps for the prevention of circulation of false texts and provocative contexts, which is also a reason of public relation nightmare.
After this call from the Indian authorities, the messaging app WhatsApp is going to restrict forward message option for all users in India. India is the biggest market for WhatsApp with more than 200 million users. The recent mob lynching incidents in different parts of India – which includes Assam and Tripura in the Northeast – have taken place as a result of the false incendiary messages spread through WhatsApp.
WhatsApp said they will test a lower limit of five chats both individual or groups chats at a time and remove the quick forward button next to media messengers. The messaging app – with the highest customer base in India – took the said decision following a call from the Ministry of Information Technology. WhatsApp said it needs help and involvement from the Government and the society as well to curb the circulation of false information on its platform. In this regard, the messaging app has published advertisement in the top newspapers of India to prevent the unnecessary spread of fake news and information.
It may be recalled that at Panjuri village in Karbi Anglong (in Assam), two youths were pulled out of their car on June 8 last and beaten to death by a frenzied mob on the suspicion that they are child-lifters. Both the friends (Nilotpal Das and Abhijit Nath) – while heading deep into the jungle towards Kanthilangso – did not even have the faintest of idea that strong rumour was doing the rounds in the area through social media that child lifters were on the prowl.
The duo was mistaken to be sopadhoras (child lifters) for Nilotpal’s dreadlocks, according to police, and was beaten to death by a 250-strong mob. By the time the police arrived and took them to the hospital, it was too late and they were declared dead.
In Tripura too, a series of lynching incidents have shook the State Government. On June 28 last, a man who was hired by the Tripura Information and Culture Department to spread awareness against rumour-mongering was lynched by a mob at Kalachhara in South Tripura district. On the very same day, a hawker from Uttar Pradesh and an unidentified woman were beaten to death on suspicion of being child-lifters in West Tripura.