Facebook is again in the news after a fake news that spread from it’s most used messaging platform resulted in the death of 12 people by different mobs in India. To overcome the problem, Whatsapp has offered a grant of $50,000 to social researchers who can find a solution to avoid these tragic incidents. Whatsapp came under scrutiny after it was found out that more than a dozen people got killed in a mob violence across five states of India due to the misinformation which was being spread through Whatsapp in the last two months.
According to the Washington Post, a total of 8 people were killed during the last week. After witnessing these tragic incidents in India, which is also the second largest market of the Whatsapp users, the Indian government also criticized the company for its role in spreading the false information. India’s Ministry of Electronics and IT demanded from the company that it should “take immediate action to end this menace”.
In response to the news, Whatsapp announced that it will pay researchers for studying various aspects of misinformation, which includes election-related issues and viral content that was being spread through the platform. The statement states, “WhatsApp is commissioning a competitive set of awards to researchers interested in exploring issues that are related to misinformation on WhatsApp. We will seriously consider proposals from any social science and technological perspective that propose projects that enrich our understanding of the problem of misinformation on WhatsApp”.
This is the first time that a fake news which spread through a social networking platform caused the deaths of a dozen people. In Myanmar last year, nearly 650,000 Rohingya Muslims were killed due to hate speech that also spread through Facebook.