The government has sent out a stern warning to WhatsApp asking the Facebook-owned messaging platform to immediately stop the spread of messages filled with rumours. The government's immediate action was followng a string of lynchings across India which led to the death of 31 people last year.
In a statement, the ministry of electronics and IT said “irresponsible and explosive messages filled with rumours and provocation” should be stopped through the application of appropriate technology. In a reply to the ministry’s query, WhataApp spokesperson has assured that the company will be stepping up its efforts to help people to find out false news and hoaxes.
Minister claimed that the instances of lynching of innocent people have been noticed recently because of large number of irresponsible and explosive messages filled with rumours are being circulated on WhatsApp. The ministry also pointed out the unfortunate killings which happened in many states such as Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tripura and West Bengal due to the spread of rumour on WhatsApp.
The government’s demand is that the WhatsApp should find suitable technology to contain this trend of spreading fake messages. According to reports, at least 31 people have been killed over the last one year in 10 different states by lynch mobs mobilised by rumours of child lifting spread over WhatsApp.
Responding to the controversy, a WhatApp spokesperson said in a statement that WhatsApp cares deeply about people's safety and their ability to freely communicate. We don't want our services to be used for spreading harmful misinformation and believe this is a challenge that companies and societies should address. The statement also asserted that the company will be stepping up its efforts to help people spot false news and hoaxes.