India is the country with the most WhatsApp users in the world. With a community that is currently over 200 million, the messaging application is one of the favorite services of Indian citizens to communicate with each other.
A user base of such a level is the best breeding ground for the proliferation of viral contents and, also, false news that runs at the speed of light with fatal consequences. This is the case of a video that showed the kidnapping of a child by two motorcyclists.
The video in question began to run on the networks, especially on WhatsApp, although its content was partial. The images lacked an important part: the moment in which the motoqueros returned the kid “kidnapped” to show a message to the camera that, precisely, warned of the dangers of the smaller ones circulating without supervision. It was a prepared video.
The users of WhatsApp who shared the video in India did not know its source and the existence of an ending that completely changed the meaning of what the images showed. In addition, it was accompanied by texts that warned of danger in specific cities, such as Bangalore.
Suddenly, a warning video became the definitive proof of the increase in cases of child abductions. The collective hysteria, in addition, was magnified supported by local news that warned of the arrival of thousands of kidnappers from the south of the country.
Fruit of fear and confusion, a citizen who had arrived in Bangalore to look for work, Kaalu Ram, was accused by a crowd of being a kidnapper of children. Amid accusations and violent gestures, Kaalu was bound and beaten by the people who had surrounded him. He did not arrive alive at the hospital.
Local police have begun to monitor the false news and accusations circulating on the network and, likewise, has started an information campaign to prevent similar events from happening again in the future.
Meanwhile, the cases have been accumulating. Recently, a group of more than 50 villagers ended the lives of two men they suspected. A false message that began to be shared by WhatsApp reported that 500 people disguised as beggars were in the area willing to kill anyone to traffic their organs. The fear, born on the mobile screens, took the mob to two innocent people and skewed their lives.
Although Mark Zuckerberg has explained on more than one occasion the work of the platform to put an end to the false news on Facebook, he has never introduced similar tools to stop the circulation of this type of messages on WhatsApp.
Of course, WhatsApp recently indicates when a message is not original and, instead, has been forwarded as is. Obviously, it is not enough.