comscore Punishing WhatsApp, Facebook group admins for offensive posts may be a harsh move, but necessary
News

Punishing WhatsApp, Facebook group admins for offensive posts may be a harsh move, but necessary

Are the authorities taking an easy route to address the cyber-rumors problem?

social-media-stock-image

If you’re an avid social media user, you d probably know what anything going viral means. Some of them are adorable dog or cat videos or some funny meme or anything that will make you guffaw while scrolling through Facebook NewsFeed or chatting in a WhatsApp group. But then there are some ridiculous things that go viral and unfortunately, they hold no truth. With no proper fact verification method in place, people are triggered by fake stories, which at times are deliberately spread to create fear, outrage and even hate. Also Read - WhatsApp is soon to change the way your data is backed up: What it means?

Also Read - WhatsApp introduces 'Papa Mere Papa' stickers to celebrate Father's Day: How to download, send?

Fake news isn t just the problem of the US. India, which has one of the largest user bases for Facebook and WhatsApp, has been equally affected by this problem. And our problems are beyond fake news affecting an election result. Of late, incidents like WhatsApp and social media being used by hate mongers and even terrorists have come into the light. With the issue increasingly becoming a major problem, Varanasi authorities have come up with a solution hold these WhatsApp Group admins responsible for spreading false and offensive content. In simpler words, such admins if found guilty can be sent to the jail. ALSO READ: WhatsApp, Facebook group admins can be jailed for offensive posts Also Read - Father’s Day 2021: Here's Best WhatsApp Happy Father’s Day stickers, wishes, GIFs, messages, quotes and more

Apparently, it s not the first time Whatsapp group admins have come under the scanner. In 2015, the agencies mulled such legal actions against these group admins. The legal actions included cases under Section 505 1(B) of the IPC, which forbids making or publishing any statement, rumour or report with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility, said a Deccan Chronicle report.

While Facebook is doing its bit of cracking down on fake news, WhatsApp becomes a complicated subject for authorities. Since it s a message-based platform and has end-to-end encryption in place, it is difficult for authorities to monitor and crack down on such rumors unless they are flagged by someone.

Cyber law expert Pavan Duggal told BGR India, The law is very clear and it defines roles, duties and responsibilities of the service providers. And all OTT players become the intermediaries. The section 79 2C of the IT Act mandates these intermediaries to exercise due diligence and obligations under the law. And as the part of the due diligence, the government has notified these service providers to inform users that they should not use the platform for terror purposes or anything that is against law. Clearly, if a WhatsApp platform is used for such things, WhatsApp administrators will be held responsible.

However, banning the internet is not the solution. We need to tighten the provisions pertaining to the intermediaries liability. The government, however, is yet to come up with detailed provisions regarding cyber terror and obligations for these service providers. These service providers cannot be mute spectators, he added.

A WhatsApp administrator is “intermediary” they don t have the actual control over the content, hence Doctrine of “Safe Harbour” applies to the administrator. As per The IT Act, 2000 i.e. the cyber law of India, an intermediary is defined as any person who on behalf of another person stores or transmits that message or provides any service with respect to that message.Intermediaries are given immunity under section 79. If the Admin is notified about bad deeds happening and he doesn t take action in the reasonable amount of time, I think then he is not qualified for immunity under section 79 of The IT Act,2000, Prashant Mali, a cyber law and cyber policy expert, told BGR India.

Though the latest diktat will raise some eyebrows, perhaps it may be too harsh and not help resolve the root problems. But the thing is that the situation we are grappling with today hasn’t happened overnight, in fact, it has been an old problem affecting people and surprisingly hasn’t been debated at a larger scale, especially in India. Also, the fact remains that indeed these WhatsApp Group messages have played a key role in spreading false information, and even causing panic among people. There are plenty of occasions where such messages have played a key role. Back in 2015, parents in Mumbai were left in anxiety after WhatsApp rumors emerged about a few gangs of women were kidnapping school kids. The local police had to set up a hotline to reach out to the parents.

If you talk about the current scenario, there are already outrageous information, mostly fake, about cow vigilantes, and Kashmir and Army situation among others doing the rounds on the social media, only to create fear and hatred between the two biggest religious communities in the country. Last month, Newslaundry reported that how political parties extensively used WhatsApp to propagate the propaganda. A lot of these messages sent by our members included propaganda against our opponents. Many had statements which were factually incorrect, a person associated with a major political party told the publication.

Even though Facebook and other internet companies are making efforts to put a check on fake news, but the truth remains a lot of damage has already been done. While all these fact verification methodologies are at the nascent stage and yet to be tested on a larger scale, the internet has become an easy medium to target a community, person and even a thought.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee British scientist, who is credited with creating world wide web, recently commented, social networks should be thinking about how they can tweak their systems to make the truth more likely to propagate, and fake news likely to fade out.

I perceive India as an emotional country and aren t we offended by anything and anyone nowadays? People who all are on WhatsApp and Facebook and other social media platforms are highly vulnerable to such nuisance that s going on. The so-called outrage and trolling that at times have taken a toll on people and surprisingly have become the topic of debate on prime time on several news channels. From the just humanitarian point of view, recently my colleague wrote about the after effects of social media and targeting. ALSO READ: The Bad, The Worse and The Worst of Social Media

I think the Varanasi authorities are not completely wrong in cracking down on these WhatsApp groups. Since there s no proper surveillance in India and an easier way to track down the source of such rumors, police and relevant agencies get a hard time addressing the problem. One of the solutions, which in my opinion is futile, the governments have come up is banning the internet altogether. Already, there have been about 22 incidents of the governments banning the internet, reports Buzzfeed.

However, in an ideal situation, there should be a mechanism in place to track the sources of such content and those should be held responsible rather than the group admins, though their roles in encouraging such rumor-mongering groups/messages should also be investigated.

For the latest tech news across the world, latest PC and Mobile games, tips & tricks, top-notch gadget reviews of most exciting releases follow BGR India’s Facebook, Twitter, subscribe our YouTube Channel. Also follow us on  Facebook Messenger for latest updates.
  • Published Date: April 21, 2017 1:38 PM IST



new arrivals in india

Infinix Note 10 Pro
Infinix Note 10 Pro

16,999

Infinix Note 10
Infinix Note 10

10,999

Vivo Y73
Vivo Y73

20,990

OnePlus Nord CE 5G
OnePlus Nord CE 5G

22,999

iQOO Z3
iQOO Z3

19,990

Realme C25s
Realme C25s

9,999

Poco M3 Pro 5G
Poco M3 Pro 5G

13,999

Realme X7 Max 5G
Realme X7 Max 5G

26,999

Oppo F19
Oppo F19

18,990

Motorola Moto G40 Fusion
Motorola Moto G40 Fusion

13,999

POCO M2 Reloaded
POCO M2 Reloaded

9,499

OPPO A74 5G
OPPO A74 5G

17,990

Oppo A53s 5G
Oppo A53s 5G

14,990

Vivo V21 5G
Vivo V21 5G

29,990

Realme C25
Realme C25

9,499

Realme C21
Realme C21

7,999

Realme C20
Realme C20

6,799

Motorola Moto G60
Motorola Moto G60

17,999

iQOO 7
iQOO 7

31,990

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G
Samsung Galaxy M42 5G

21,999

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

69,999

Xiaomi Mi 11X Pro 5G
Xiaomi Mi 11X Pro 5G

39,999

Xiaomi Mi 11X
Xiaomi Mi 11X

29,999

Realme 8 5G
Realme 8 5G

13,999

Samsung Galaxy F02s
Samsung Galaxy F02s

8,999

Samsung Galaxy F12
Samsung Galaxy F12

10,999

POCO X3 Pro
POCO X3 Pro

18,999

Realme 8 Pro
Realme 8 Pro

17,999

Realme 8
Realme 8

14,999

Vivo X60 Pro Plus
Vivo X60 Pro Plus

69,990

Vivo X60 Pro
Vivo X60 Pro

49,990

Vivo X60
Vivo X60

37,990

OnePlus 9 Pro 5G
OnePlus 9 Pro 5G

64,999

OnePlus 9R 5G
OnePlus 9R 5G

39,999

OnePlus 9 5G
OnePlus 9 5G

49,999

Samsung Galaxy A72
Samsung Galaxy A72

34,999

Samsung Galaxy A52
Samsung Galaxy A52

26,499

Micromax In 1
Micromax In 1

10,499

Asus ROG Phone 5
Asus ROG Phone 5

49,999

Samsung Galaxy M12
Samsung Galaxy M12

10,999

Motorola Moto G30
Motorola Moto G30

10,999

Motorola Moto G10 Power
Motorola Moto G10 Power

9,999

Oppo F19 Pro Plus 5G
Oppo F19 Pro Plus 5G

25,990

Oppo F19 Pro
Oppo F19 Pro

21,490

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

18,999

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

15,999

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10

11,999

Realme Narzo 30A
Realme Narzo 30A

8,999

Realme Narzo 30 Pro
Realme Narzo 30 Pro

16,999

Infinix Smart 5
Infinix Smart 5

7,199

Samsung Galaxy F62
Samsung Galaxy F62

23,999

Samsung Galaxy A12
Samsung Galaxy A12

12,999

Nokia 5.4
Nokia 5.4

13,999

Nokia 3.4
Nokia 3.4

11,999

Realme X7 Pro 5G
Realme X7 Pro 5G

29,999

Realme X7
Realme X7

19,999

Vivo Y31
Vivo Y31

16,490

Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G
Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G

35,990

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

1,05,999

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G

81,999

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

69,999

Vivo Y12s
Vivo Y12s

9,990

Vivo Y51A
Vivo Y51A

17,990

Samsung Galaxy M02s
Samsung Galaxy M02s

8,999

Xiaomi Mi 10i
Xiaomi Mi 10i

21,999

Oppo A15s
Oppo A15s

11,490

Tecno Spark 6 Go
Tecno Spark 6 Go

8,499

Vivo V20 2021
Vivo V20 2021

24,990

Vivo Y20A
Vivo Y20A

11,490

Xiaomi Redmi 9 Power
Xiaomi Redmi 9 Power

11,999

Motorola Moto G9 Power
Motorola Moto G9 Power

11,999

Motorola Moto G 5G
Motorola Moto G 5G

20,999

Vivo V20 Pro
Vivo V20 Pro

29,990

Xiaomi Mi 10T
Xiaomi Mi 10T

35,999

Xiaomi Redmi 9i
Xiaomi Redmi 9i

8,299

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro
Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro

39,999

Infinix Hot 10
Infinix Hot 10

9,999

Vivo V20 SE
Vivo V20 SE

20,990

Vivo V20
Vivo V20

24,990

Micromax In 1b
Micromax In 1b

6,999

Micromax In Note 1
Micromax In Note 1

10,999

OnePlus 8T
OnePlus 8T

42,999

Samsung Galaxy F41
Samsung Galaxy F41

15,499

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

1,29,900

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro

1,19,900

Apple iPhone 12 Mini
Apple iPhone 12 Mini

69,900

Apple iPhone 12
Apple iPhone 12

79,900

Poco X3
Poco X3

16,999

Realme Narzo 20A
Realme Narzo 20A

8,499

Realme Narzo 20
Realme Narzo 20

10,499

Realme Narzo 20 Pro
Realme Narzo 20 Pro

13,999

Oppo F17
Oppo F17

16,990

Samsung Galaxy M51
Samsung Galaxy M51

22,999

Poco M2
Poco M2

10,999

Oppo F17 Pro
Oppo F17 Pro

22,990

Realme 7 Pro
Realme 7 Pro

19,999

Realme 7
Realme 7

14,999

Best Sellers