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As lynchings rise, govt tells WhatsApp to curb rumours

NEW DELHI: Looking to clamp down on rumours that have led to lynching of innocents on suspicion of child lifting, the government on Tuesday asked Facebook-owned instant messenger WhatsApp to take urgent steps to prevent spread of “irresponsible and explosive messages” on its platform. The warning comes at a time when there have been repeated cases of violence provoked by posts circulated on popular messaging apps where passers-by have been targeted for no fault of theirs.
The ministry of electronics and IT (MEITY) said WhatsApp “cannot evade accountability and responsibility”, in a stern message to the world’s most popular messenger which is widely used for sharing messages, events, videos and data. Police forces have been struggling to deal with “fake and motivated” messages that have inflamed passions.
Terming the “unfortunate killings” in states like Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tripura and West Bengal as “deeply painful and regrettable”, the infotech ministry said that abuse of platforms like WhatsApp “for repeated circulation of such provocative content” was a matter of deep concern.
Take remedial steps to check fake news flow, WhatsApp told
In the past, in situations like riots or in terrorism-affected areas, states have been suspending use of internet to stop rumours. “MEITY has taken serious note of these irresponsible messages and their circulation on such platforms. Deep disapproval of such developments has been conveyed to the senior management of 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.

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