On WhatsApp, Rumours, Lynchings, and the Indian Government

Economic & Political Weekly vol. lIV no. 6, Forthcoming

10 Pages Posted:

See all articles by Chinmayi Arun

Chinmayi Arun

Yale Law School; Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: January 3, 2019

Abstract

There are two kinds of problems with rumour over WhatsApp: one is disinformation and the other is incitement to violence. Both are serious in their own ways, but for different reasons. In this essay, I explain why the rumours leading to the lynchings are more appropriately treated as incitement to violence. I also discuss what significance WhatsApp has in this context, and whether the changes made by WhatsApp in reaction to the public criticism and government pressure are likely to put a stop to the lynchings. Finally, I discuss the potential human rights consequences of WhatsApp’s willingness to co-operate with the Indian government.

Keywords: whatsapp, social media, hate speech, incitement to violence, fake news, india, freedom of expression, incitement to hatred, communal violence, surveillance, metadata, social media platforms, intermediary liability, data localisation, privacy

Suggested Citation

Arun, Chinmayi, On WhatsApp, Rumours, Lynchings, and the Indian Government (January 3, 2019). Economic & Political Weekly vol. lIV no. 6, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Chinmayi Arun (Contact Author)

Yale Law School ( email )

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New Haven, CT 06511
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06511 (Fax)

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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