New Delhi: The government on Thursday directed Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp to come out with more effective solutions that can bring in accountability and facilitate enforcement of law in addition to their efforts towards labelling forwards and identifying fake news.

The move comes in the wake of a spate of incidents of mob lynching in the country connected to fake messages on social media that have mainly spread through WhatsApp.

The spate of murders that have taken place over the last month have been reported from several states, including Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tripura, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

“The rampant abuse happening in the country leading to repeated commissioning of crimes pursuant to rampant circulation of irresponsible messages in large volumes on their platform have not been addressed adequately by WhatsApp," the information technology (IT) ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry said it has conveyed to WhatsApp in unmistakable terms that it is a very serious issue and deserves a more sensitive response.

On 3 July, the IT ministry directed WhatsApp to take appropriate measures to curtail the spread of fake and provocative messages through its platform.

In less than a week, the social media giant rolled out a new feature that would clearly mark forwarded messages in a move aimed at curbing the spread of rumours on its platform.

However, the government does not seem to be convinced by the efforts of the company. “When rumours and fake news get propagated by mischief mongers, the medium used for such propagation cannot evade responsibility and accountability. If they remain mute spectators they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action," said the ministry.

Earlier this month, the Union home ministry issued an advisory asking states and Union territories to initiate effective measures to counter rumours.

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