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22 lynched in 2 months: Please, don’t believe everything you read on social media

By Oneindia Staff
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    New Delhi, July 5: "Don't believe everything you read," said popular American model Molly Sims.

    In the current Indian context, when fake news is moving faster than bullet trains (although we don't have one yet), "don't believe everything you read, especially online".

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    As millions of people have got access to smartphones and internet connection--even in the remotest corners of the country--the digital India's first casualty is the astronomical rise in mob lynching cases.

    Unfortunately, social media has turned anti-social as rumour-mongers are spreading fake news and lies on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.

    In the recent few weeks, the spread of fake news, especially about child-lifters on prowl, have caused panic and unrest across the country leading to the death of at least 22 people in various mob lynching episodes.

    The latest case is the lynching of five men on suspicion of being child-lifters in Maharashtra's Dhule district. Before that three men were lynched in three different incidents in Tripura, again on suspicion of being child-lifters.

    Since the government is yet to release data on mob lynching, media reports say at least 62 people have been lynched since 2015. Out of the 62, 22 died in the last two months.

    However, a video posted by the Congress on Twitter stated that 31 people died in mob lynching in the last two months.

    The Congress video also ends with the message asking people: "so don't believe everything you receive on social media". The Congress alleges that mob lynching is growing under the Narendra Modi government because "it's a part of a bigger propaganda".

    The government sent out a stern warning to WhatsApp asking the Facebook-owned messaging platform to immediately stop the spread of "irresponsible and explosive messages filled with rumours and provocation" on its platform.

    A day after the government voiced concern over WhatsApp messages triggering lynching in various parts of the country, the US-based social media platform on Wednesday said fake news, misinformation, and hoaxes can be checked by the government, civil society and technology companies working together.

    Outlining steps it has taken to curb abuse of its platform, WhatsApp -- in its response to a notice sent by India's IT ministry -- said it has the ability to prevent spam but since it cannot see the content of private messages, blocking can be done only based on user reports.

    The bottom line of the entire problem is that we need to apply discretion before believing in every piece of information we read or hear. Moreover, even if something is true, who gives us the right to take up law into our hands?

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