Published: 29th June 2021
#ThrowbackToday: The horrific lynchings sparked by WhatsApp rumours just two years ago
In today's #TBT, we take a pause to remember that fake news is rampant and if the situation gets out of control, like it did on June 29, 2018, who will save us from technology?
The rumours were rife that child kidnappers, who lifted children to sell their organs off, were on the loose. How did it start? No clue. Who was circulating it? No idea. Where did it originate? No knowledge of that either. But at its peak, the news was doing so much damage that locals would turn on innocent victims, who were usually not from the same place, and beat them up ruthlessly. The situation in Tripura was such that on June 29, 2018, the government decided to cut the internet off for 48 hours.
A fact-checker who was spreading valid information via loudspeakers was brutally beaten up and died on the spot, a mob descended with full force on four traders from Uttar Pradesh and killed one of them and a woman was beaten up while the crowd chanted "death to child lifters". The situation was going from bad to worse hence, this drastic step had to be taken.
This is an extreme example of what fake news can do and why we must not believe everything that comes out of WhatsApp University. Take it with a pinch of salt.
WhatsApp has 390 million users in India alone. Just leaving this fact right here to let it sink in.