WhatsApp opposes anti-Muslim fake news. Prohibitions, restrictions introduced

Since the blocking of the coronavirus occurred in India on March 24, the Muslim population has been the target of misinformation spread by WhatsApp. Most of the resentment began with criticism of Tablighi Jamaat, a multinational missionary group. The latter held a sermon in New Delhi after the city government banned assemblies. Then turned into a group of COVID-19.


The essence of the problem

But criticism of one small group turned into a persecution of the whole religion. The event message triggered a series of inflammatory messages on WhatsApp. The messages say Muslims are actively seeking to spread the virus throughout India. The same fate awaits nearby countries, including Russia.

The prevalence of fake India news has been growing every minute. The central government called them the “single most uncontrollable hurdle” in managing the current pandemic. Now the country’s leadership and the creators of WhatsApp need to take action or take risks even more by polarizing Indian society.

Whatsapp reaction

One widespread video has distinguished itself in the misinformation stream. The video depicts a Muslim chef deliberately spitting on food before delivering it to customers.

The video, accompanied by messages warning users not to eat food from people wearing a skullcap, was shot by a representative of the youth wing of the ruling party, Bharatiya Janata. The author called for a boycott of “such stores”.

However, the video was uploaded a year before the current pandemic. The material may not have been shot in India, Alt News, a fact-checking website reports.

Another WhatsApp’s often-forwarded multimedia depicts a policeman beating a priest of a Hindu temple in the Indian city of Reva. The attached description states that it is the local police chief Abid Khan who acts as the aggressor. However, this turned out to be a fake.

In the photo, the policeman is not Inspector Khan, the priest is not a Muslim. Rumors exposed Boom, a fact-checking platform. Experts explained that a policeman attacked a priest for allowing 200 people to gather during a lockout.

“Citizens must remember – these messages, even with good intentions, can have tragic consequences in real life. The call to boycott Muslim business will lead to the hospital of the victim of aggressive masses.

Citizens think they are warning loved ones in their WhatsApp groups. High-ranking members of the government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, increase religious hatred at the state level. Minister Mukhtar Abbas Nakvi, who is responsible for minority issues, called the Tablighi Jamaat event “a Taliban crime.” Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister of the Northern State of India, called the movement “enemies of mankind”.

Top-down meanness is adding fuel to the anti-Muslim fire that erupts between the Indian WhatsApp groups. Fact-checking agencies described this as a deliberate model for legitimizing the community on social networks, ”said WhatsApp CEO.

Event replay

The practice of inciting hate speech about WhatsApp in India, the largest market with 400 million active users, is not new. The company attracted wide attention in 2018, when forwarded messages caused a tragic series of lynching cases, the death of bandits.

The scandal erupted so quickly that the leadership of the messenger had to block dozens of groups, communities.

To slow down the spread of misinformation during a pandemic, WhatsApp has tightened the restrictions on sending messages. If a user receives an email that has been redirected more than five times, he can send it in only one chat.

Controversial Limitations

It is still unclear what impact this will have on India. Especially considering that the ban is valid for users, regardless of the geography of the user. Even when forwarded messages are exposed as false, their damage has already been done.

Academic studies show that those who often read letters filled with hatred are devoid of sensitivity to them. People are less likely to recognize discrimination. If religious hatred is not recognized, eliminated, it will penetrate society when prohibition laws are relaxed.

How to protect yourself

With the lack of a vaccine for fake news, much like with COVID-19, there are clear measures that authorities and people can take to protect themselves and limit the spread. First of all, the population must resist the temptation to become a victim of prejudice, refrain from sending unverified messages.

To create immunity, people must learn through independent online fact-finding resources on WhatsApp email verification. Experts also recommend “side reading,” which may include copying content from a message to a browser, evaluating the results.

In March, the Indian Ministry of Health launched a chatbot service where WhatsApp users can request information they received about COVID-19. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, this had no effect.

In turn, after a dozen incidents of mass distribution of false news, WhatsApp launched a bot to check information.

As WhatsApp groups continue to be a forum for discussing common experiences using COVID-19, users should approach fake news with the same seriousness as self-isolation. If they don’t, the religious fanaticism shown in WhatsApp groups will cease to exist for a long time.

“We have introduced restrictions, violating the boundaries of free communication. There was no such messenger in the vastness of the messenger yet. However, measures are forced. The restrictions apply not only to residents of India “.

Virtual communication experts have created a number of rules that allow you to protect yourself from fake:

  • Subscribe to verified channels. Press services, internationally known media, official pages of heads of state, company leaders.
  • The study of information. Even a simple Google search will help you find the source of distribution.
  • “First think, then act.” A rule to evaluate the effect of distribution.
  • Use a bot. WhatsApp Information Filtering Helper is Free.
  • Learn media literacy. The Internet is full of courses to help you understand the veracity of information. To study, it is enough to take an hour or two for a week.

The correct selection of information, an informed choice of sources is useful not only to you, but also to relatives and friends. An important role is played by the quality of the utility. Downloading WhatsApp is not enough. It is necessary to periodically update the messenger. Installation of software codes from the Play Store, App Store, the official site is free.