In India, fake news spreads in family chats on WhatsApp

The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a boom in the messaging app in India. In group conversations, false information spreads within the family, mixing with pseudoscientific rumors xenophobic or sectarian attacks.

With “A little over half a billion users in the country”, WhatsApp is the most popular platform in India, notes Meghna Rao, a writer of Indian origin, in Rest of World. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the application has become an essential tool for managing oxygen supplies, finding resuscitation ventilators and available hospital beds, or for organizing solidarity collections of all kinds.

Its omnipresence has gradually made the application a replacement for traditional media, which is worrying in this country ranked 142nd out of 180 in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedoms ranking. Faced with the misunderstanding and concerns raised by the Covid-19, disinformation, which could appear as “A harmless online game”, turned out to have “Devastating repercussions in India”, alarm Meghna Rao.

“Pass this information on to your family and friends”

In July 2020, the grandfather of this New York-based writer was diagnosed positive for Covid-19 after showing symptoms of “Mental fog”, confusion of mind seen in some patients with

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