Many Twitter users were surprised this morning to see an unexpected hashtag trending on the microblogging platform - #UninstallWhatsApp. The popular Facebook-owned messaging app has over two billion users worldwide, but a section of the Internet wants it uninstalled from the phones of two prominent personalities who, they claim, are being fed fake news through the platform.
On 27th April, the hashtag #UninstallWhatsApp began trending on Twitter after a Twitter user created a petition requesting Mark Zuckerberg to disable WhatsApp for Amitabh Bachchan and Anand Mahindra.
"A megastar and a renowned industrialist are falling prey to fake news & bizarre content being fed to them via Whatsapp," reads the Change.org petition created by Twitter user @RoflGandhi_. "We need to restore the dignity of two gentlemen. Through this petition we are requesting Mark Zuckerberg to disable Whatsapp on their numbers."
Over 1,500 people have signed the petition.
The petition comes even as WhatsApp tightened message forwarding limits at the beginning of the month, restricting users to sharing forwarded content one chat at a time after a jump in messages touting bogus medical advice since the start of the coronavirus crisis. The pandemic has been accompanied by what the World Health Organization (WHO) has called an "infodemic" of misinformation.
Superstar Amitabh Bachchan, an active Twitter user, has been called out several times for sharing misinformation on social media. This month, the 77-year-old was criticised for retweeting a post on Twitter that falsely showed an illuminated India on the world map.
In March, he was also called out for a tweet which claimed vibrations from clapping and blowing conch shells as part of the janata curfew (public curfew) would have reduced or destroyed coronavirus potency as it was "Amavasya", the darkest day of the month.
Businessman Anand Mahindra, meanwhile, is famous for his 'WhatsApp Wonder Box' - which he often digs into to share funny, thoughtful and viral posts for his seven million Twitter followers. On Sunday, he apologised after being criticised heavily for sharing an "insensitive" photo that showed two people using green leaves to cover their faces amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hashtag #UninstallWhatsApp, which began trending due to the petition, has also led to a number of memes on Twitter.