WhatsApp Comes Under Fire From Law Minister

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Law Minister tells WhatsApp that no rocket science needed to check rumours on its platform.

New Delhi: WhatsApp has come under fire again after the Union Government warned the social media platform to check fake and dangerous postings and forwards that tend to fuel rumours, violence and lynching. This time it was IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad who trained his guns at WhatsApp.

Prasad told WhatsApp that no rocket science is needed to find out circulation of fake messages. “If in any state, any part, on a particular subject, if there is a movement of large volumes of messages on WhatsApp, it is not rocket science that can’t be discovered by application of technology,” Prasad said on the sidelines of a conference in New Delhi.

The minister demanded greater accountability from social media platforms like WhatsApp in the wake of recent mob violence across the country, fuelled by fake posts.

Prasad is right. WhatsApp can easily find technological solutions to identify mass-circulation of messages on a particular issue in a particular area. He instructed WhatsApp to work in a coordinated manner with the country’s IT Department, Home Ministry and the police.

He said social media companies like WhatsApp, which are reaping commercial gains from the Indian market, have to remain accountable and vigilant to prevent abuse of their platforms for the spread of dangerous and provocative messages.

If WhatsApp fails to heed these warning, the Government should take stern action and charge the social media platform for abetment to violence, lynching and other crimes.

The Facebook-owned firm has found itself in a spot after a series of lynching incidents purportedly triggered by provocative messages circulating on its platform.

On Tuesday, the government asked the App to take immediate measures to prevent the spread of “irresponsible and explosive messages”. Expressing “deep disapproval”, the government called for “necessary remedial measures” and “immediate action” to stem the flow of misinformation.

In response, WhatsApp said it is “horrified” by the “terrible acts of violence” and has outlined steps being taken by the company to curb abuse of its platform.