India's ruling party reportedly using WhatsApp to fuel fake news ahead of elections

India's ruling party reportedly using WhatsApp to fuel fake news ahead of elections

- The spread of fake news through WhatsApp in India has continued unabated despite steps the social media platform has taken in stopping it

- Political parties in India are spending money to create hundreds of thousands of WhatsApp groups to spread political messages and memes

- The spread of fake news through WhatsApp has caused a lot of violence in India

In spite of moves by WhatsApp to stop the spread of fake news through the platform, those involved in the act do not seem to be relenting in spreading fake news in India ahead of the country's forthcoming national elections.

Recall that WhatsApp users in India are only allowed to forward messages to a maximum of five contacts or group chats, a policy that has just been announced to be replicated around the world, Time reports.

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Legit.ng gathers that the policy has been in place for six months in India, a country where fake news through WhatsApp is a major concern for the government.

Report has it that political parties in India are spending a lot of money for the purpose of creating hundreds of thousands of WhatsApp group chats to spread political messages and memes.

Plans are said to have been drawn up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to have three WhatsApp groups for each of India’s 927,533 polling booths.

WhatsApp group contains a maximum of 256 members. This means that the number of group chats that will be created by BJP could theoretically reach more than 700 million people out of India’s population of 1.3 billion.

Fake news and hate speech are circulated when they are sent to people who in turn forward them to their contacts without verifying the authenticity of such messages.

Soma Basu says: “There is an army of volunteers whose job is to sit and forward messages. The volunteer is not able to forward a message to 20 people in one go any more. So they’ll just do it five times.”

Basu is a fellow at the Reuters Institute at Oxford University, who is researching the spread of hate messages on WhatsApp group chats in India.

Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that an administrator and members of a WhatsApp group were arrested by the Kano state command of the Nigeria Police Force for allegedly circulating fake news and an image of a married woman whom they claimed was trafficking in children in the city.

The spokesperson for the command, Magaji Musa Maaji, said the suspects were arrested and paraded after the victim of the circulated image lodged a formal complaint to the police command.

Maaji said the fake report about the victim was spread with the intent to incite the public against her.

The police said: “We received a complaint from a married woman and a civil servant, Mrs Bushirat Madaki, that her picture is being shared on WhatsApp group with the intent to malign and incite the public against her.

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“Upon receiving the complaint, the Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Rabiu Yusuf ordered an immediate investigation by a special team who were able to trace and arrest three married suspects a man and two women for circulating the fake and offensive information.

“When confronted over the petition against them, the suspects admitted that the image and material on the woman were shared and forwarded in their group."

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Source: Legit Nigeria

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