07/05/2018, 09.09
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India, fight against fake news: WhatsApp offers 50 thousand dollars to stop lynching

The number of people killed due to fake news shared by messages and videos has risen to 27. The Delhi authorities call upon the top management to assume their responsibilities. Projects to collaborate with the police; new functions to block "fake news chains".

New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - WhatsApp, the famous online messaging platform, has decided to offer $ 50,000 to the Indian authorities to counter the spread of fake news. The decision comes in the aftermath of the harsh call by the government of Delhi, worried about the recent incidents of lynching by crowds instigated by false news circulating via the digital application.

Meanwhile, the number of people killed in the country as a result of unfounded accusations continues to rise. Investigators report that at least 27 Indians have been murdered because of fake news shared via text and video messages forwarded through the WhatsApp chain. Most of the victims were accused of child abduction, theft and sexual abuse without any evidence. The violence mainly affected foreigners, unknown to the local population, or who do not speak the regional dialect.  

With its 200 million users, India is the largest market for the well-known application that has 1.5 million members worldwide. Authorities complain that when a piece of news begins to circulate on social media, it is difficult to slow down its propagation. For this reason, two days ago, Shankar Prasad, minister for electronics and computer science, released a note in which he defined the circulation of messages created for the sole purpose of provoking and instigating the mass as "unacceptable". Then he invited the leaders of the application to take serious measures and "not absolve themselves from their responsibilities and obligations" to curb the spread of false information.

Given the severity of the incidents, the management of WhatsApp has decided to run for cover, especially in view of the 2019 general elections in which the "spreaders of hate" could create even more confusion for personal purposes. The company informs that it wants to implement a program in collaboration with police officers and that it is testing a new function that would block the forwarding of the falsified messages (the famous "chains"); finally it wants to add a new icon that allows group chat administrators to check the published texts.

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