One can leave this to us humans to take something really useful and turn it into weapon of mass destruction. In current news due to various mob lynchings in India more than 20 people have been brutally hurt by people after being accused of kidnapping and other crimes in viral messages which were being circulated on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is a very user friendly application, which is clearly proved by number of adults using this app on daily basis. One message can be forwarded to many people in contact list for one’s ease but this lead to spread of false news in India. Fake news and information was forwarded by the number of people without confirming and the angry people ended up attacking innocents without any confirmation or trial.
Even here in Pakistan, this spreading of fake news is not uncommon. On daily basis my mother receive at least 5-6 most ridiculous forward messages from my desi relatives like, ‘miracle! how a murghi wrote the name of Allah with corns’, ‘reham khan spilling beans about imran khan’, or some half video which will only make sense if one can get hold of full video or else it will look full controversial and how can i dare to forget the message which you HAVE to send to 10 people or else you’ll end up dying in your sleep.
Even during elections, my family WhatsApp group (which I’ve smartly muted for a year, cause there wasn’t an option saying forever) was full of such ridiculous news about different candidates. It was hard for me to understand how anyone can believe these pictures and videos without knowing the source, let alone act on them so viciously but these recent encounters in India made me realize we Pakistanis are not the only over emotional ones.
My cousin recently sent me a picture of MUKKA CHOWK which was colored with colors of PTI’s (political party) flag. He was fuming with rage as why in Karachi Imran Khan would do such a petty thing. I pointed it out to him that the picture is not real and it’s really badly photo-shopped which calmed him down. So yeah don’t believe in everything you saw on internet.
Indian government was quick in taking actions:
Enough of my stories and let’s come to the facts. Indian government threatened to take WhatsApp in court saying that if they are not being quick in taking actions, they will be held accountable in helping the crime.
“If (WhatsApp) remain mute spectators they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action,” the information technology ministry said.
Indian government had all the rights to go berserk as India was making its name in all the latest world news and so not in a good way.
The Facebook owned firm responded by suggesting necessary precautions they will be taking to make sure such acts of horror can be minimized.
They are limiting the number of contacts to which message can be forwarded to, upto 5 in India. For both group and individual chat and by removing the quick forward option next to media messages to make the forwarding of messages a little difficult. They want to create a hindrance in forwarding messages so that people consider twice before deciding to send same message to their entire contact list.
“We believe that these changes — which we’ll continue to evaluate — will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” a statement said.
The ministry also asked WhatsApp to let them trace the messages when required officially but their request was declined, hence the messages will remain end to end encrypted.
Lynchings are not new in India but due to availability of android smartphones and low cost data, rumors are now being spread at the speed of light. At a place where ratio of education is already low and population is more this causes a greater threat. An educated and well informed person will think twice before acting on these messages rather than uninformed one.
Our role among all these chaos:
Its common sense not to believe anything we see or read without authenticating it first. We should try and recognize the fake news and create awareness regarding it. Try and put some sense in people who believe in WhatsApp news with close eyes. General public awareness is the only way to eradicate this problem. WhatsApp is he best application available right now for chatting, calling and video calling. Let’s try and make it as safe as possible.
So next time your mum sends you a message saying forward it to 10 people or else you’ll die, don’t forward it and wake up the next day in full swing.