Whatsapp Vigilantes – An exploration of citizen reception and circulation of Whatsapp misinformation linked to mob violence in India

Even as mob violence is on the increase in India, there is little doubt that such violence is deeply mediated through the use of digital social media use, especially peer to peer applications like WhatsApp. Much of mainstream discourse tends to overemphasise the alleged digital illiteracy of users and fails to incorporate the social and political contexts in which media and communication technologies are used. In late 2018, WhatsApp awarded 20 research studies focused on the various aspects of misinformation and its consequences. In partnership with LSE, Maraa conducted qualitative research on WhatsApp users and misinformation linked to mob violence in India. The study avoids the narrow focus on the acts of violence or its perpetrators and victims as isolated individuals. The key findings of the study seek to illuminate a set of conditions under which society has become inflammable. Based on our findings, we also make recommendations that are relevant to both government agencies in India as well as to WhatsApp and other technology companies.

The full report can be downloaded here.