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Why Are People Falling for Child Lifting Rumours? Crime Data May Hold the Answer

National Crime Record Bureau data shows that over 54,723 child kidnapping cases were reported in 2016-2017. In 2015, the figure was 41,893. Child kidnapping accounts for nearly half of all crimes against children. The conviction rate at the same time was only 22 per cent, the data reveals.

Arunima | CNN-News18Arunima24

Updated:July 6, 2018, 12:04 AM IST
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Why Are People Falling for Child Lifting Rumours? Crime Data May Hold the Answer
Illustration by Mir Suhail/News18.com
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New Delhi: As the government looks to tackle fake news of child lifting that has led to a spree of lynchings across the country, an analysis of crime data has revealed that child kidnapping cases have increased 30 per cent in the last one year.

National Crime Record Bureau data shows that over 54,723 child kidnapping cases were reported in 2016-2017. In 2015, the figure was 41,893. Child kidnapping accounts for nearly half of all crimes against children. The conviction rate at the same time was only 22 per cent, the data reveals.

A senior government official said the fear of losing your child to abductors and lack of justice is preparing grounds for people to believe in WhatsApp rumours and take law in their own hand.

More than 20 people have been lynched across the country in the last two months on suspicion that they were child lifters. The suspicions have been fuelled by fake messages being circulated primarily on WhatsApp.

The central government has asked the messaging platform to crack down on these rumours. Last week, union home secretary met top officials of the home ministry, electronics and information technology ministry, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter to discuss the implications of rumours on social media.

"The meeting was originally called to discuss misuse of WhatsApp and social media platforms by terrorists, but the lynching episodes were discussed and WhatsApp was told to take action," an MHA official in the know about the meeting told CNN-News18.

Sources said that at the meeting, WhatsApp was told that they must come up with a technological solution to the growing menace of fake news and rumours being forwarded through their platform.

It was suggested to WhatsApp that in case of a forwarded message, the app could clearly define the original sender, the date of origin of the message and the location, if possible. A spokesperson for the app has said that they are looking for a way to demarcate forward messages.

On Tuesday, the government also sent a notice to WhatsApp, asking it to immediately take steps to prevent the spread of "irresponsible and explosive messages", saying the social media platform cannot evade its responsibility.

Responding to the directions, the US-based social media platform said that fake news, misinformation, and hoaxes can be checked by the government, civil society and technology companies working together.

Outlining steps it has taken to curb abuse of its platform, WhatsApp - in its response to a notice sent by the IT Ministry - said it has the ability to prevent spam but since it cannot see the content of private messages, blocking can be done only based on user reports.

Officials said that the MHA has also taken cognizance of a video originally made in Pakistan to generate awareness about child kidnapping. This video has been edited and is being forwarded to create fear amongst people about child kidnapping.
| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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