India’s government has asked WhatsApp to take urgent steps to prevent the spread of rumours following a series of deadly mob attacks.
At least 20 people have been killed in mostly rural villages across India in lynchings instigated by false information distributed on WhatsApp.
The victims were innocent people accused of belonging to gangs trying to abduct children.
India’s ministry of electronics and IT (MEITY) said WhatsApp “cannot evade accountability and responsibility” after the killings were linked to “irresponsible and explosive messages” circulating on its platform.
“Deep disapproval of such developments has been conveyed to the senior management of the (sic) WhatsApp and they have been advised that necessary remedial measures should be taken,” the ministry said in a statement.
Abuse of services such as WhatsApp “for repeated circulation of such provocative content” was a matter of deep concern, the ministry added.
Last week, a woman was killed and dozens hurt in the mob attacks after a false rumour was spread on WhatsApp that child abductors were at large.
Around 100 people attacked the victim and three other women in Ahmedabad, a city in the state of Gujarat.
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