WhatsApp seems to be in trouble with the problem of disinformation and fake news on the platform which has resulted in physical harm in the real world in the past few months. As previously reported, the company is in deep waters after fake messages circulated on the platform resulted in mob violence in India resulting in a number of deaths. The company has been working hard to find a solution to the problem including rolling out a number new features to its apps with India-specific restrictions of the number of messages a user can forward at any given time.
Other features include labeling messages that have been sent from any other WhatsApp conversation as ‘Forwarded’ along with removing the quick forward button in front of media messages. The company has opened a rewards program to invite new ideas by researchers and experts to better tackle the issue of disinformation along with running ads in major newspapers across the country. According to a recent report by VentureBeat, in response to the new feature updates, the Government of India has asked WhatsApp to find “more effective solutions” to combat the problem. The Ministry of Electronics and IT issued a press release on July 20, 2018, urging the company to work on something more concrete.
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The Government of India also asked WhatsApp to bring “in traceability” to ensure that the source of the disinformation can be tracked and brought to justice by the law enforcement. The notice points out that “the medium used for such propagation cannot evade responsibility and accountability.” However, it looks like WhatsApp may not comply with the request to bring traceability to the platform.
According to the report, WhatsApp stated that bringing traceability to the platform will undermine its core principle to protect the privacy of its users. The company went on to add, “We remain deeply committed to people’s privacy and security, which is why we will continue to maintain end-to-end encryption for all of our users.”
Complying with this request will obviously mean that the company will have to break its encryption which is a suicidal move for any messaging platform in this privacy-conscious world. This report comes right after WhatsApp rolled out a new feature that could check and flag any suspicious links.