WhatsApp has also been asked to immediately contain the spread of such messages through application of technology, even as law and order machinery takes steps to apprehend the culprits.
Noting that miscreants were repeatedly circulating provocative messages triggering a spate of violence, the government on Tuesday said it has “conveyed in no uncertain terms that WhatsApp must take immediate action to end this menace and ensure that their platform is not used for such malafide activities”.
Conveying its deep disapproval to the top brass of WhatsApp, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) stated that the Facebook-owned company “cannot evade accountability and responsibility”, according to the official statement. When contacted, a WhatsApp spokesperson said, “WhatsApp cares deeply about people’s safety and their ability to freely communicate”. “We don’t want our services used to spread harmful misinformation and believe this is a challenge that companies and societies should address. For example, we recently made a number of updates to our group chats and will be stepping up efforts to help people spot false news and hoaxes,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
India is the largest market for WhatsApp with over 200 million users. In a separate statement, WhatsApp said it would be instituting awards for research on spread of misinformation on its platform. The government’s warning to WhatsApp comes in the wake of a spate of incidents involving lynching of innocent people because of certain “fake and motivated” messages being circulated on the widely used messaging app.