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WhatsApp promises to battle 'sinister' false messages

Rumors spread via WhatsApp have stoked violence and even lynchings in India.

WhatsApp Mobile Application

WhatsApp is working with Indian law enforcement to put a stop to fake messages, according to the country's  IT minister.


WhatsApp told India's government on Tuesday it's developing tools to crack down on rumors and false messages plaguing users of the app.

Chris Daniels, CEO of the Facebook-owned messaging service, promised IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad that it would figure out a solution, according to Reuters.

The minister said he asked WhatsApp to develop a method of tracing the origin of "sinister" messages, noting that doing so "does not need rocket science." He also said that the company is working with law enforcement to develop systems tackling the spread of messages filled with rumors and false information.

WhatsApp didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

India is WhatApp's biggest market, with more than 200 million people using the service. Tuesday's meeting comes after a series of fatal attacks caused by WhatsApp-spread misinformation, with users forwarding messages containing unsourced rumors.

On July 1, five people were reportedly lynched in the western city of Dhule after a rumor circulated that they abducted children. At least 12 others have been beaten as a result of similar messages.

In the wake of these incidents, WhatsApp took steps to combat rumors by limiting message forwarding, introducing a feature that shows if messages have been forwarded and taking out full-page newspaper ads with tips for spotting fake news messages.

Earlier this month, it was reported that India's government asked telecom service providers to explore options for blocking Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Telegram during "emergency situations."

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