"We're horrified by these awful acts of violence and wanted to respond quickly to the very important issues you have raised", WhatsApp said in the letter. In a statement from the IT ministry to WhatsApp, it said that instances of lynching of innocent people have occurred after a large number of irresponsible and explosive messages were circulated on WhatsApp.
Facebook Inc's WhatsApp messenger has told India that curbing the spread of false messages through its platform is a challenge that required a partnership between the tech firm, civil society and the government.
Demanding greater accountability from social media platforms like WhatsApp in the wake of recent mob violence across the country, fuelled by fake posts, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said finding technological solutions to identify mass-circulation of messages on a particular issue in a particular area can not be "rocket science".
It added: "While the Law and order machinery is taking steps to apprehend the culprits, the abuse of platform like WhatsApp for repeated circulation of such provocative content are equally a matter of deep concern".
The IT Ministry on Tuesday asked WhatsApp, which has over 200 million monthly active users in India, to take necessary remedial measures to prevent the proliferation of fake and at times motivated/sensational messages on its platform. Numerous attacks have targeted strangers in remote communities, including people from another region or who speak a different language from the mob.
In mid-May, WhatsApp added protections to prevent users who leave a group from being added back.
In other southern states like Karnataka, police have set up social media control rooms from where they monitor posts, viral messages and videos.
WhatsApp said it planned to run a public safety campaign in India "given its importance" to the company, and mentioned efforts by police to use its platform to raise awareness about its misuse.
In a separate incident, police said they rescued five family members, including a 2-year-old child, when a mob of thousands attacked them on the suspicion of being child abductors in a town, also in Maharashtra state, early Monday. "This will help reduce the spread of unwanted messages into important group conversations - as well as the forwarding of hoaxes and other content", the American company said.
WhatsApp has always been at the center of the fake news debate in India.
The company, late on Wednesday, also announced "unrestricted monetary awards" for research on spread of misinformation on its platform to address the problem.
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