The labeling of forwarded messages in WhatsApp has little effect in the areas where lynch parties took place in India this summer after rumors on WhatsApp. Users in those areas do not update their apps.
The labeling of forwarded messages is the most important measure of WhatsApp to prevent the spread of fake information via the chat service. The users for whom the function was mainly intended, people in the Indian countryside, do not seem to use the update yet, writes Buzzfeed in an extensive background article about the lynch parties.
This is because those users do not Google account and do not use the Play Store. They can use WhatsApp by sharing the apk file with services that enable the offline sharing of files, such as Xender and SendIt.
WhatsApp maintains its view that it does not want to weaken the privacy measures in the chatapp to take further action against the spread of misinformation. Buzzfeed writes that many users rely on information via WhatsApp, because they do not watch TV or have other media. Many of them can not read or write and only view photos and videos in group chats.
The site mentions local initiatives to prevent future lynching parties. This happens, for example, with plays that re-enact the WhatsApp rumors and the beginning of a lynch part, after which a leading actor intervenes and tries to make clear that a lot of fake information via WhatsApp also reaches the villages.
This summer, lynch parties in India following rumors on WhatsApp that child abductors would be active. People who came to villages and had a resemblance with people from the videos with the ‘kidnappers’ were confronted with violence and lynching. After analysis, the videos turned out to have nothing to do with child abduction.