On Sunday, July 28, a woman in her 40s was thrashed by a mob in Sagar district, Madhya Pradesh, under suspicion of being a child kidnapper. Upon questioning, the police could find no connection that links her to a child nabbing gang. On the contrary, the lady is reported to be suffering from mental instability. While this itself is sad, what is more concerning is the root cause that can be traced to this act of mob violence — a forwarded message on WhatsApp.

Over the past few days, the district of Sagar, Madhya Pradesh has seen a WhatsApp message being forwarded virally. Reports indicate that the contents of the message are alleging that a Rohingya Muslim gang has entered the district, and is kidnapping children. As a result, well-meaning people are scurrying to spread the message out as far and wide as possible, to warn family members of these supposed child abductors.

On its part, WhatsApp has been attempting to design tools that may help individuals verify a piece of information before forwarding to others. However, any measure taken so far have evidently failed to be entirely successful, given that yet again, the issue of mob violence has risen in line with misinformation and propaganda being shared on WhatsApp.


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