WhatsApp curbs India service after lynchings

Govt may sue WhatsApp for abetting lynchings

WhatsApp curbs India service after lynchings

The Facebook-owned firm responded on Friday with an announcement it will test limiting the ability to forward messages and cap at five the number of contacts or groups that messages can be forwarded to.

WhatsApp added in a blog post that these changes will help to keep the app as it was created to be - a private messaging app.

In a blog post, WhatsApp noted that its users in India "forward more messages, photos, and videos, than any other country in the world".

The company said in a blog post Thursday evening in the United States that it is launching a test to limit forwarding on WhatsApp in India, where people forward more messages and videos than anywhere else in the world.

"There is a need for bringing in traceability and accountability when a provocative or inflammatory message is detected and a request is made by law enforcement agencies". "When rumors and fake news get propagated. the medium used for such propagation can not evade responsibility".

These changes come in the wake of a series of mob lynchings that killed at least 18 people across India since April 2018.

With fake messages sent over WhatsApp leading to violent incidents in various part of the country, the instant messaging company will soon bring a fake news verification model to India. As you can imagine, the details of these unfortunate events are chilling, but perhaps WhatsApp's upcoming forwarding limits can help stop the bloodshed.

"If they remain mute spectators they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action", the Centre said in a statement.

Now a look at what are these changes and how daily users of WhatsApp will be affected by this in India.

WhatsApp has received flak from the Indian government over fake news and false information being circulated on its messaging platform.

WhatsApp added that they hoped this measure would curb the frequency of messages being forwarded.

Earlier this month, WhatsApp in response to a call from the Ministry of Information Technology, said it required a partnership with the government as well as society in general to curb the spread of false information on its platform.

The forwarding restriction imposed for India is more stringent than globally, where it has been set at 20.

Lynchings are nothing new in India, but the spread of smartphones-there are a billion plus handsets, and data is cheap-to even the most remote corners has enabled rumors to be shared at lightning speed. It will also remove the "quick forward" tab next to the media messages.

"We built WhatsApp as a private messaging app - a simple, secure, and reliable way to communicate with friends and family", said the company.

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