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WhatsApp Wrote To IT Ministry That It Is Horrified By Acts Of Violence

According to media reports, over 30 people have been killed in the past one year

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay
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Taking cognisance of the Indian government’s concerns over the misuse of its platform for repeated circulation of provocative content, Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Wednesday wrote to the IT Ministry, saying the company is horrified by terrible acts of violence.

The IT Ministry on Tuesday asked WhatsApp to take immediate action and ensure that the platform is not used for such malafide activities over the growing instances of lynching of innocent people owing to large number of irresponsible messages filled with rumours and provocation circulated on the mobile messaging platform.

“Thank you for your letter dated July 2. Like the Government of India, we’re horrified by these terrible acts of violence and wanted to respond quickly to the very important issues you have raised. We believe this is a challenge that requires government, civil society and technology companies to work together,” WhatsApp said in the reply to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

WhatsApp, which has over 200 million monthly active users in India, listed several measures it is taking or has already put in action to control the spread of misinformation and abuse on its platform.

“We have been testing a new label in India that highlights when a message has been forwarded versus composed by the sender.

“This could serve as an important signal for recipients to think twice before forwarding messages because it lets a user know if content they received was written by the person they know or a potential rumor from someone else. We plan to launch this new feature soon,” the company informed.

According to media reports, over 30 people have been killed in the past one year by lynch mobs after rumours of child lifting triggered via messages on WhatsApp.

In Mid-May, said WhatsApp, it added new protections to prevent people from adding others back into groups which they had left — a form of misuse they thought it is important to correct.

WhatsApp Logo
WhatsApp Logo. Image source: Pixabay

“Last week, we launched a new setting that enables administrators to decide who gets to send messages within individual groups. This will help reduce the spread of unwanted messages into important group conversations – as well as the forwarding of hoaxes and other content,” the popular messaging platform noted.

WhatsApp has also announced a new project to work with leading academic experts in India to learn more about the spread of misinformation.

“The fact-checking organisation Boom Live is available on WhatsApp and has published some reports on the source of the rumours that have contributed to the recent violence,” the company said.

While WhatsApp messages can be highly viral, the way people use the app is by nature still very private.

“Many people (nearly 25 per cent in India) are not in a group; the majority of groups continue to be small (less than 10 people); and nine in 10 messages are still sent from just one person to another,” WhatsApp informed.

The company also asked to Indian government to talk further about the actions it is taking and its plans going forward.

“With the right action we can help improve everyone’s safety by ensuring communities are better equipped to deal with malicious hoaxes and false information — while still enabling people to communicate reliably and privately across India,” it noted.

Also read: WhatsApp Copies Telegram to Add One-way ‘Broadcast’ Mode to Group Chats

WhatsApp also announced to soon start an engagement programme with the law enforcement officials across the country so “they are familiar with our approach and how we can be helpful”. (IANS)

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Witnessing Violence in Schools May Affect Kids’ Grades

The effect was the same for hidden or veiled violence, which included theft and vandalism

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Impact of violence makes children suffer academically
Impact of violence in the neighborhood, on children. Pixabay

Witnessing violence in high school may lead to emotional distress among children and affect their academic performance later, suggests a new research.

The findings, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, suggest that schools should seek to empower bystander students who are not directly involved in acts of school violence, rather than giving them messages to stay uninvolved.

For the study, the researchers statistically tested the relationship between witnessing school violence in Grade 8 and subsequent anti-social behaviour (drug use, delinquency), emotional distress (social anxiety, depressive symptoms), and academic adjustment (school achievement, engagement) in Grade 10.

The research involved nearly 4,000 high-school students in Canada.

“There were several take-home messages. First, witnessing school violence in Grade 8 predicted later impairment at Grade 10. Second, bystander effects were very similar to being victimized by violence directly,” said study co-author Linda Pagani, Professor at University of Montreal in Canada.

Violence
Exposure to violence in schools may affect kids’ grades. Pixabay

The researchers examined different forms of violence and established the fact that witnessing major violence including physical assaults or carrying weapons is associated with drug use and delinquency later.

The effect was the same for hidden or veiled violence, which included theft and vandalism.

Witnessing minor violence (threats and insults) resulted in an increase in drug use, social anxiety, depressive symptoms, and decrease in engagement and participation at school, the findings showed.

Also Read- Best Casinos In India

“Most students reported witnessing violence. It is clear that approaches to prevention and intervention should include witnesses as well victims and perpetrators and target all forms of school violence,” Michel Janosz of University of Montreal said.

“Supportive family and community relationships also prevent emotional desensitisation to violence which contribute to aggressive behaviour in youth,” Janosz said. (IANS)