Our Take

Stop The Forwards

Stop The Forwards

If mistaken lynchings based on chain messages of organ donation racketeers in MP or child lifting gang travelling incognito in Bengaluru have exposed the utterly destructive potential of fake propaganda through whatsapp forwards, then new apocalyptic messages are damaging further sanity. There’s one going around about nipah virus showing up in fruits from the northeast and even, hold your breath, chicken.

A few days ago there was a NASA prediction going viral of a giant tremblor in north India with an advisory to leave one’s home city and seek refuge elsewhere. Medical advice, too, is being freely bandied about, often attributed to known centres or institutions, though not quoting a specific resource or a contact person. Doctored videos and visuals escalate a perceived sense of crisis further. With whatsapp having the highest number of users in India at 200 million, time has come to revisit privacy issues and stop this spiral of nonsense-mongering that half our population, despite the tele density and felicity with smartphones, cannot process as real or perverse. The general thinking is that If it is the written word, it has got to be true.

Though whatsapp has now decided to tag forwards, and with big brother Facebook itself under attack for privacy issues, it is time that they ensure transparency and track the log of mischievous rumour mongers and share some data with investigative authorities about perpetrators. Inflammatory and misplaced propaganda that stokes passions on hearsay will need to be clamped down right now and their purveyors, who have caused deaths, booked as harshly as the executors of crime.



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