Centre asks states to check mob lynching fuelled by child-lifting WhatsApp rumours

The Centre today asked the states and Union territories (UTs) to check incidents of mob lynching fuelled by rumours of child lifting on social media.

Published: 05th July 2018 03:18 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th July 2018 09:39 PM   |  A+A-

Home Minister Rajnath Singh (File | EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday asked all states and union territories to keep an eye on mob lynching that is fuelled by rumours spread on social media.

In the advisory issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Centre has asked states to “keep a watch for early detection of rumours of child lifting and initiate effective measures to counter them”. “The Centre has asked the states and UTs to take measures to prevent incidents of mob lynching fuelled by rumours of child lifting circulating on social media,” a Home Ministry spokesperson said.

ALSO READ | A timeline: Fake WhatsApp rumours trigger series of mob lynching across the country

The advisory asks the states to direct district administration to identify vulnerable areas and hold outreach programmes for creating awareness and build confidence among people over rumours that are spread on social media and also asked police personnel to investigate kidnapping cases properly so as to instill confidence among citizens.

Responding to the directions, WhatsApp said that fake news, misinformation,
and hoaxes can be checked by the government, civil society and technology
companies working together.

Over the last two months, over 20 people have been lynched on suspicion of child abduction. The latest incident occurred in Dhule district of Maharashtra. Last month, two people were lynched in Assam on suspicion of kidnapping.

In Chennai, two men employed with a construction company engaged in Metro Rail work were attacked last week when they tried to stop a boy from crossing a busy road and a bystander raised an alarm, suspecting them to be child-lifters. However, they were rescued by police.

ALSO READ | Maharashtra police provide WhatsApp helplines, rope in fact-checking sites to stop mob lynchings

The Centre on Tuesday had directed WhatsApp to ensure that 'irresponsible and explosive messages' are not spread on its platform. WhatsApp in response had said that misinformation and fake news could be contained with the combined efforts of the government, the civil society and technology firms.

Elaborating on the steps it has taken to reduce abuse and fake news on its platform, WhatsApp said that only user reports can help to prevent misinformation from spreading as they did not have access to private messages.

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