Do something about fake news or face legal action: Govt to social media chiefs
New Delhi : The Indian government on Wednesday issued a warning to all social media chiefs, asking them to take all necessary actions to stop fake news or misinformation; otherwise they may have to face legal consequences. The warning comes in a backdrop of various mob killing incidents due to circulation of fake messages on social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook.
"There are country representatives of all online giants in India. Action would be initiated against them if they do not comply to remove online hate," a senior bureaucrat dealing with the issue told NDTV.
Recently, WhatsApp had rejected government's demand to track the original sender of a message. According to the Times Of India, WhatsApp claimed in its response to the government that it could not break its protocols surrounding end-to-end encryption, which means that WhatsApp or any other third party cannot read your messages while they are being sent. The messaging app has instead introduced new features limiting message forwarding to five people at a time.
Mob lynching across the nation
According to media reports, over 61 cases of mob lynching have been registered so far, with 24 resulting in death of the victim. These all cases were a result of fake message circulated on the social media.
In all of the above cases, the victim was assaulted with no evident proof against them. In most, if not all of these cases, fake news of child-lifters were spread using WhatsApp.
Government Notices to WhatsApp
Government had sent its first notice to WhatsApp on July 3, asking them to come out with a solution on putting a brake on circulation of wrong message. Reacting on the demand, the Whatsapp started labelling forward messages and also capped it to 5 people at a time.
However, mob lynching of a 32-year-old software engineer in Bidar prompted the government to send a second notice to the Facebook-owned platform, asking it to seriously address the concerns surrounding the false information being circulated through the messenger service.
The company has also been asked to set up a corporate entity in the nation. As per current scenario if anything goes wrong in India, the hearing would take place in American Courts.
WhatsApp has agreed to set up a corporate entity in India, as announced by Minister Prasad following his meeting with the WhatsApp CEO.