Someone edited a Pakistani child-safety education video to make it look like evidence of a ring of kidnappers was snatching children and taking them away on motorcycles; the video went viral in India, spread on Whatsapp, and it has inspired terrified mobs to attack and murder strangers on suspicion of being involved in the fictitious kidnapping rings.
The latest victims of the hoax are audio engineer Nilotpal Das and digital artist Abijeet Nath who were beaten to death when they stopped in a village in the state of Assam to ask for directions. Their murder was recorded and it, too, has gone viral — it features one of the victims begging for his life as he is beaten.
There have been widespread protests over the hoax, with people chanting "don't believe the rumours."
The death toll from the hoax stands at eight. Dozens have been arrested for participating in mob violence.
Deaths linked to WhatsApp rumours
April: A man in the southern state of Tamil Nadu is beaten to death by a mob after he is seen aimlessly wandering the streets
A 55-year old woman in Tamil Nadu is lynched for giving sweets to children; police arrest 30 people
A man in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh is lynched for speaking Hindi and not the local language, Telugu
A man in neighbouring Telengana is killed by a mob while entering a mango orchard at night
Another man in Telengana is lynched when visiting a village to see his relatives
A man in the southern city of Bangalore, who had moved there recently, is tied up with rope and beaten to death with cricket bats
A transgender woman is lynched in Hyderabad
June: Two men are lynched in north-eastern Assam after stopping their car to ask for directions
(via Beyond the Beyond)