Bhubaneswar: Messaging application WhatsApp, on Tuesday carried full page ads in all major newspapers of the country, creating awareness against false news with 10 tips to help people decide if the news is true.
This was done after grievous incidents of mob lynching were reported as a result of false news going viral on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp will soon roll out a new feature to help people identify forwarded messages. The ad urges people to double check facts, links and photos and be aware of all viral messages.
Fake news and videos about child lifters circulating over the messaging app have led to mob lynching in at least eight states, including Odisha, Karnataka, Assam, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Reports indicate this has led to the death of 29 people since May last year.
This Facebook owned platform is the most widely used messaging service in the country and averages over 200 million messages every day.
Earlier in May, the Director General of Police (DGP) RP Sharma had issued a 7-point advisory to make people aware of the ground reality regarding posts and messages going viral on social media that led to various mob lynching in the state.
One of the points read: “It is now seen that some people with an intention to create panic in the society, are trying to spread rumour about the child-lifting racket being active in Odisha which is absolutely baseless and false. As the head of the state police administration, I assure you that no such incident has occurred in any part of the state till date”. Read more here.
Various incidents of messages, false news and videos going viral on WhatsApp are:
- Child Lifters- Villagers of Sarangada under Baliguda tehsil in Kandhamal district nabbed three non-Odia persons in June for suspected child-lifting. (Read more here). Various such incidents were reported in Berhampur, Cuttack and Rayagada.
- Objectionable Videos- These have been, by far, the most circulated on WhatsApp as there is news of the same every day. Some lives have also been lost in the process. Kuakhai murder case remains one the most grave till now.
- In another incident, as published by Alt News, a message was forwarded in June, on WhatsApp read:
“उड़ीसा से आज खबर मिली है की बिहार से झारखंड होते हुए भिखारी के बेस में पांच सौ लोग निकले है जो रासते में जो मिलता है उसको काटकर कलेजे अौरकीडनी निकाल रहे है जिसमे से छः सात लोग पकड़े गाए है .जो पकडे़ गए हैं वही लोग को कडी़ पुछताच के बाद पांच सौ लोग आने की बात काबुल की है इसलिएहमारे भाईयों मेसेज को आपके जितने परिवार और मेंबर है सबको परवड कीजे इसमे एक विडयो भी (There are reports from Odisha that a beggar travelling from Bihar to Jharkhand was caught with 500 human bodies. Whoever comes across is killed, and the kidney and liver are removed. Six-seven people have been arrested. After interrogation, they revealed about the 500 bodies, so please forward this message to all family members. There is a video too).”