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How to Avoid the WhatsApp Download Murder Scam



WhatsApp Download Murder: How Fake News Leads to Deadly Violence in India




WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps in the world, especially in India, where it has over 400 million users. It offers free, encrypted, and easy-to-use communication for people across different languages, regions, and social groups. However, WhatsApp also has a dark side: it enables the spread of misinformation, propaganda, and hate speech among its users. Some people use WhatsApp to create and share fake news, videos, and images that incite violence and fear.


One of the most notorious examples of this is the false rumors of child kidnappers that have circulated on WhatsApp in India since 2018. These rumors claim that strangers are abducting children for organ harvesting, trafficking, or witchcraft. They often include graphic and disturbing images and videos that are either edited or taken out of context. These rumors have triggered panic and paranoia among some communities in India, leading to violent mobs attacking and killing suspected child kidnappers, who are often innocent bystanders or outsiders. According to a report by IndiaSpend, at least 24 people have been killed and dozens more injured by these mobs since April 2018. This phenomenon has been dubbed as the "WhatsApp download murder" by some media outlets, as some of the victims were targeted after they downloaded or forwarded WhatsApp messages.




whatsapp download murder



The Rise of WhatsApp in India




WhatsApp was launched in 2009 as a simple and secure messaging app that allowed users to send text, voice, and video messages to each other. It quickly gained popularity around the world, especially in emerging markets like India, where it offered a cheap and convenient alternative to traditional SMS and phone calls. WhatsApp also supported multiple languages, including 11 Indian languages, making it accessible to millions of people who did not speak English or Hindi. WhatsApp also enabled users to create groups of up to 256 members, where they could share news, jokes, memes, and other content with their friends and family.


By 2017, WhatsApp had become the most popular messaging app in India, with over 200 million users. By 2019, that number had doubled to over 400 million users, making India the largest market for WhatsApp in the world. WhatsApp also became a vital tool for social and political mobilization in India, as it was used by various groups and movements to organize protests, campaigns, and rallies. For example, WhatsApp played a key role in the 2016 demonetization drive, where millions of Indians used the app to exchange information and opinions about the government's decision to ban high-value currency notes. WhatsApp was also widely used by political parties and candidates during the 2019 general elections, where they used the app to reach out to voters and supporters.


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The Dark Side of WhatsApp in India




However, while WhatsApp has brought many benefits to its users in India, it has also brought many challenges and risks. One of the biggest problems is the spread of misinformation, propaganda, and hate speech on the platform. Unlike other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, WhatsApp messages are encrypted and private, meaning that they cannot be monitored or moderated by anyone. This makes it easy for anyone to create and share fake news, videos, and images that can influence or manipulate public opinion. Some of these messages are deliberately designed to incite violence and fear among certain communities or groups.


Some of the common themes of fake news on WhatsApp in India include religious conflicts, communal riots, political scandals, natural disasters, health scares, and national security threats. Some of these messages are based on rumors or hearsay, while others are fabricated or falsified using editing software or old footage. Some of these messages are motivated by political agendas or personal interests, while others are driven by ignorance or malice. Some of these messages are shared by gullible or naive users who believe them to be true, while others are shared by cynical or malicious users who want to spread chaos or hatred.


The Case of the Child Kidnapping Rumors




One of the most notorious examples of fake news on WhatsApp in India is the false rumors of child kidnappers that have circulated on the platform since 2018. These rumors claim that strangers are abducting children for organ harvesting, trafficking, or witchcraft. They often include graphic and disturbing images and videos that are either edited or taken out of context. For example, one of the videos that went viral on WhatsApp showed a man on a motorcycle carrying a child on his back. The video claimed that the man was a child kidnapper who had snatched the child from a nearby village. However, the video was actually taken from a Pakistani public service announcement that warned parents about child safety. Another video that went viral on WhatsApp showed a group of men beating a woman with sticks. The video claimed that the woman was a child kidnapper who had confessed to her crimes. However, the video was actually taken from a lynching incident in Guatemala in 2015.


The Consequences of the Child Kidnapping Rumors




Telangana, and West Bengal. Some of the victims of these mobs have been software engineers, migrant workers, transgender women, mentally ill people, and tourists. These incidents have been dubbed as the "WhatsApp download murder" by some media outlets, as some of the victims were targeted after they downloaded or forwarded WhatsApp messages. Examples of WhatsApp Download Murder Cases




Here are some examples of the WhatsApp download murder cases that have occurred in India since 2018:


  • In May 2018, a software engineer named Mohammad Azam was lynched by a mob in Karnataka after he offered chocolates to children. The mob mistook him for a child kidnapper and attacked him and his friends, who were also injured. Azam had downloaded a WhatsApp message that warned him about child kidnappers in the area, but he did not believe it.



  • In June 2018, a transgender woman named Chandraiah was beaten to death by a mob in Hyderabad after she was mistaken for a child kidnapper. The mob accused her of being part of a gang that kidnapped children and performed rituals on them. Chandraiah had forwarded a WhatsApp message that alerted her about the child kidnapping rumors, but she did not know that it was fake.



  • In July 2018, a migrant worker named Kaluram Bachanram was killed by a mob in Tamil Nadu after he asked for directions in Hindi. The mob suspected him of being a child kidnapper and chased him and his friend, who managed to escape. Bachanram had received a WhatsApp message that warned him about the child kidnapping rumors, but he did not understand it as it was in Tamil.



The Response to the WhatsApp Download Murder Phenomenon




The Indian government, police, media, and civil society have tried to tackle the problem of fake news and mob violence on WhatsApp. They have launched various initiatives and campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of misinformation and the importance of critical thinking. They have also appealed to WhatsApp to take more responsibility and action to limit the spread of misinformation on its platform.


WhatsApp has taken some measures to address the issue, such as reducing the number of forwards from 20 to 5 per user, adding labels to forwarded messages, introducing a fact-checking service, and running public awareness ads. WhatsApp has also said that it is working with local partners and authorities to help prevent violence and abuse on its platform.


The Challenges and Limitations of the Response




However, the response to the WhatsApp download murder phenomenon has been inadequate, ineffective, or counterproductive in some cases. Some of the challenges and limitations of the response are:


  • Some authorities have resorted to arresting or threatening WhatsApp users who share or forward fake news, which may violate their freedom of expression or privacy rights.



  • Some authorities have blocked internet access or shut down mobile networks in areas where mob violence has occurred, which may affect the access to information or communication for millions of people.



  • Some authorities have blamed social media companies like WhatsApp for the violence, without addressing the underlying social or political factors that fuel the rumors or mobs.



  • Some people have resisted or ignored the efforts to educate them about fake news and critical thinking, either because they do not trust the sources or because they are influenced by their biases or emotions.



  • Some factors such as illiteracy, poverty, social tensions, and political agendas have contributed to the persistence and popularity of fake news on WhatsApp, as they create a fertile ground for rumors and fear-mongering.



Conclusion




In conclusion, WhatsApp is a popular messaging app in India that offers many benefits to its users, but also poses many risks and challenges. One of the most serious problems is the spread of fake news on WhatsApp that leads to deadly violence in India. False rumors of child kidnappers have circulated on WhatsApp since 2018, causing mobs to kill innocent people who are suspected of being child kidnappers. This phenomenon has been called the "WhatsApp download murder" by some media outlets.


The Indian government, police, media, and civil society have tried to address this problem by educating the public about misinformation and critical thinking, and by appealing to WhatsApp to take more action to limit the spread of misinformation on its platform. However, these efforts have faced many challenges and limitations, such as legal issues, technical difficulties, social factors, and psychological barriers.


To prevent or reduce fake news and mob violence on WhatsApp, some possible solutions or actions are the following:


  • WhatsApp should implement more features and policies to detect and flag fake news, such as using artificial intelligence, verifying sources, and banning repeat offenders.



  • The government should enact and enforce laws and regulations to prevent and punish the creation and dissemination of fake news, as well as the instigation and participation of mob violence.



  • The police should improve their capacity and coordination to respond to and prevent mob violence, as well as to protect and assist the victims and witnesses.



  • The media should adhere to ethical and professional standards of journalism, and avoid sensationalizing or spreading fake news. They should also fact-check and debunk fake news, and raise awareness about the issue.



  • The civil society should engage in dialogue and collaboration with various stakeholders, such as religious leaders, community groups, NGOs, and academics, to promote peace and harmony among different groups and communities.



  • The public should be more vigilant and responsible when using WhatsApp, and verify the information they receive or share. They should also report or counter fake news, and refrain from joining or supporting mob violence.



By taking these steps, we can hope to curb the WhatsApp download murder phenomenon in India, and make WhatsApp a safer and better platform for everyone.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about the WhatsApp download murder phenomenon in India:


  • What is WhatsApp download murder?



WhatsApp download murder is a term used by some media outlets to describe the phenomenon of mob violence triggered by fake news of child kidnappers on WhatsApp in India. It refers to the fact that some of the victims were targeted after they downloaded or forwarded WhatsApp messages that contained false rumors of child kidnappers.


  • How many people have been killed by WhatsApp download murder mobs in India?



According to a report by IndiaSpend, at least 24 people have been killed and dozens more injured by WhatsApp download murder mobs in India since April 2018. However, the actual number may be higher, as some cases may not have been reported or recorded.


  • Why do people believe and share fake news on WhatsApp?



There are many reasons why people believe and share fake news on WhatsApp, such as:


  • Lack of media literacy or critical thinking skills



  • Lack of access to reliable or alternative sources of information



  • Lack of trust in mainstream media or authorities



  • Confirmation bias or cognitive dissonance



  • Emotional arousal or manipulation



  • Social pressure or conformity



  • Political agenda or personal interest



  • What are the effects of fake news and mob violence on WhatsApp?



Fake news and mob violence on WhatsApp have many negative effects on individuals, communities, and society, such as:


  • Loss of life or injury



  • Loss of property or livelihood



  • Loss of trust or reputation



  • Loss of peace or harmony



  • Loss of freedom or privacy



  • Loss of democracy or justice



  • How can we stop fake news and mob violence on WhatsApp?



We can stop fake news and mob violence on WhatsApp by taking various actions at different levels, such as:


  • WhatsApp should implement more features and policies to detect and flag fake news.



  • The government should enact and enforce laws and regulations to prevent and punish fake news and mob violence.



  • The police should improve their capacity and coordination to respond to and prevent mob violence.



  • The media should adhere to ethical and professional standards of journalism, and avoid sensationalizing or spreading fake news.



  • The civil society should engage in dialogue and collaboration with various stakeholders to promote peace and harmony.



  • The public should be more vigilant and responsible when using WhatsApp, and verify the information they receive or share.




: [WhatsApp hits 400 million users in India](https://techcrunch.com/2019/07/26/whatsapp-hits-400-million-users-in-india/) : [WhatsApp rumours spark India lynching spree](https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-44856910)


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