WhatsApp announced limits on Friday on the forwarding of messages by its 200 million Indian users in an effort to stop a spate of horrific lynchings and to assuage government threats of legal action in its biggest market.
More than 20 people have been butchered by crazed mobs in the past two months across India after being accused of child kidnapping and other crimes in viral messages circulated wildly on WhatsApp.
Late Thursday India’s government, scrambling to find a response, threatened to take WhatsApp to court, saying the “medium” for spreading malicious rumours “cannot evade responsibility and accountability”.
“If (WhatsApp) remain mute spectators they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action,” the information technology ministry said. The Facebook-owned firm responded on Friday with an announcement it will test limiting the ability to forward messages and cap at five the number of contacts or groups that messages can be forwarded to.