The horrors of WhatsApp fakery: Innocents continue to be lynched
Electronics & Gadgets  

Fake videos and wild social media rumors about “child lifters and kidnappers” have triggered mob frenzy from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to Karnataka this week. Four people have been killed and several others thrashed.


These rumors include how groups of people from “northern states” are looking to steal children from the area, so “strangers” are becoming sitting ducks in the rural hinterlands. But fear has even spread to cities like Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Vishakhapatnam.
In May last year, a similarly unfounded WhatsApp rumor had seen villagers beating seven people to death in Jharkhand, with police saying it didn’t know how the rumor began or who started it.
In all these instances a case can be made that administration and police should attend to warning signs. By acting in an appropriate and timely manner, proactively squelching the rumour, they can stop it from boiling over into violence.
But the larger challenge of how social media amplifies hate speech and misinformation has to be battled by becoming less credulous, especially in fake news minefields. Here WhatsApp may pose even greater dangers than Facebook and Twitter, because the latter at least have a mechanism to report and take down material inciting violence.



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