Check spread of fake messages, govt tells WhatsApp

10 Arrested In Maharashtra For Lynching 5 Men Suspected To Be Child Lifters

5 men killed by mob in Maharashtra on suspicion of being child kidnappers

"The abuse of platform like WhatsApp for repeated circulation of such provocative content" is of deep concern to the Government of India.

The Facebook (FB)-owned service is testing a tool in India that will show users when a message has been forwarded rather than composed by the sender, it said in a letter to the Indian government on Wednesday.

Sadly and unsurprisingly, the Indian government is at a loss to find ways to quell the violence, and so it's found a scapegoat in WhatsApp instead.

The most recent incident of fake news-driven lynching happened a couple of days ago in Rainpada of Dhule, Maharashtra, where villagers lynched five people over suspicions that they were "child-lifters".

In the letter, Whatsapp has detailed the steps that it has taken and is taking to fight misinformation and said that its strategy involves giving people the controls and information they need to stay safe; and to work proactively to prevent misuse on WhatsApp.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had written to WhatsApp to take appropriate measures to curtail the spread of fake news and provocative messages on its platform following a spate of murders in 9 states over the last month connected to fake messages on a social media platform. "This will help reduce the spread of unwanted messages into group conversation - as well as the forwarding of hoaxes and other content".

In its detailed response sent to the IT ministry, a copy of which has been seen by news agency PTI, WhatsApp has listed out the various measures being undertaken by the platform to curb the spread of false news and misinformation.

With over 200 million active WhatsApp users in India, the country seems to have a serious problem with the spread of fake news, and nothing is being done about it. "We plan to launch this new feature soon". It has also started working with fact checking organizations to identify rumors and false news - and respond to them - using WhatsApp such as Boom Live in India.

"We will seriously consider proposals from any social science and technological perspective that propose projects that enrich our understanding of the problem of misinformation on WhatsApp", the post said.

Internet policy experts say WhatsApp doesn't have legal accountability and can not be held liable for the way people use it.

Last year, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is now in power in the country, was reportedly working to set up roughly 5,000 WhatsApp groups to spread its campaign messaging for the 2018 assembly elections across the southern state of Karnataka, which is home to some 61 million people.

Pavan Duggal, a cyber expert and an attorney, said WhatsApp needs to comply with Indian laws and also adopt a "more sensitive and customized approach" for the country to reap the benefits of the vast Indian market.

Latest News