Woman Lynched In India After WhatsApp Rumors

A mob lynched a woman in India after rumours circulated on WhatsApp about child kidnappers, police said Monday, days after the messaging firm said it was curbing the forwarding of messages.

More than 20 people have been killed in similar incidents in the past two months, leaving both the Indian authorities and Facebook-owned WhatsApp scrambling to find a solution in its biggest market.

Police said nine people have been arrested and more are being sought after they found the middle-aged woman’s mutilated body near a forest area in the Singrauli district of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Sunday.

The accused men told police they caught hold of the woman late Saturday after finding her moving suspiciously and seeing a flurry of WhatsApp messages about gangs of child kidnappers in the area, local police chief Riyaz Iqbal told AFP.

“We are trying to identify the victim and have circulated her picture to all the police stations,” Singrauli police chief Riyaz Iqbal told AFP.

WhatsApp said the next day it would test limiting the ability of its more than 225 million Indian users to forward messages and remove the “quick forward button” next to media messages.

It had already announced new features to help users identify messages that have been forwarded and bought full-page adverts in Indian newspapers with tips on how to spot misinformation.

It has however stopped short of acceding to Indian government demands to enable the authorities to trace messages, saying its service would stay “end-to-end encrypted”.

The spate of attacks related to rumours of child kidnapping started last May in the eastern state of Jharkhand with the emergence of a video that has since spread across India.

People have also been lynched by Hindu extremists murdering Muslims and thrashing low-caste Dalits accused of killing cows or eating beef.

AFP

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India Govt Tasks WhatsApp To Prevent Circulation Of Fake News

India has asked Facebook Inc-owned WhatsApp messenger to take steps to prevent the circulation of false texts and provocative content that have led to a series of lynchings and mob beatings across the country in the past few months.

With over 200 million users in India, WhatsApp’s biggest market in the world, false news and videos circulating on the messaging app have become a new headache for social media giant Facebook, already grappling with a privacy scandal.

So far this year, false messages about child abductors on WhatsApp have helped to trigger mass beatings of over a dozen people in India, no fewer than three of whom have died.

In addition, five people were beaten to death by a mob on Sunday in a fresh incident of lynching in India’s western state of Maharashtra on suspicions that they were child abductors.

“Deep disapproval of such developments has been conveyed to the senior management of WhatsApp.

“They have been advised that necessary remedial measures should be taken,” India’s IT ministry said in a strongly-worded statement.

The ministry said law enforcement authorities were taking steps to apprehend culprits responsible for the killings but the repeated flow of fake news messages on WhatsApp was also a matter of deep concern.

It also said that messaging platform “cannot evade accountability and responsibility” when such services are abused by users to spread misinformation.

“The government has also conveyed in no uncertain terms that WhatsApp must take immediate action to end this menace and ensure that their platform is not used for such malafide activities,” it added.

According to WhatsApp, it does not want the platform to be used for spreading misinformation, while the dissemination of false messages was a challenge that companies and society should address.

The firm also announced awards for researchers to explore misinformation related issues and share their proposals with the messaging service, its parent Facebook, academia and policymakers.

However, Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on the government’s statement.

WhatsApp previously told newsmen that it is educating users to identify fake news as well as considering changes to the service.

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Whatsapp To Discontinue Support For Blackberry Devices

Another nail appears to have been hammered into BlackBerry’s coffin.

The once-dominant smartphone’s popularity has dramatically waned in recent years.

Now Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp is dropping support for some older phones – including all BlackBerry models.

It will also no longer support some Nokia and Android devices by the end of the year.

WhatsApp says that using developer time on these devices could hold back the app’s growth.

The BlackBerry was once an indispensable device for many

In a blog post the company said: “When we started WhatsApp in 2009, people’s use of mobile devices looked very different from today.

“The Apple App Store was only a few months old. About 70% of smartphones sold at the time had operating systems offered by BlackBerry and Nokia.”

These days, BlackBerry has less than 1% market share as Apple and Samsung dominate worldwide phone sales.

Every BlackBerry, including ones running the relatively new BlackBerry 10, will be hit, along with the Nokia S40, Symbian S60 and any phone running Android 2.1 and 2.2, plus Windows Phone 7.1.

WhatsApp advised those with the affected phones to upgrade to newer models.

The blog post added: “This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using WhatsApp.”

 

Source Sky News

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