Union IT Minister of India, Ravi Shankar Prasad, met with WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels today to discuss the recent issue of fake news being spread in the country through the Facebook-owned platform. The minister posted updates from his meeting with Daniels on Twitter, saying that he has advised the WhatsApp CEO to appoint a grievance officer in India.
“I requested CEO Whatsapp Chris Daniels to set up a grievance officer in India; establish a corporate entity in India & comply with Indian laws. He assured me that Whatsapp will soon take steps on all these counts,” Prasad Tweeted from his official handle. “I further asked CEO of Whtaspp, Chris Daniels to work closely with law enforcement agencies of India and create public awareness campaign to prevent misuse of Whatsapp. He assured me that Whatsapp will undertake these initiatives,” the minister added.
WhatsApp undertook various initiatives to curb fake news being spread through the platform after multiple incidents of lynching in India were reported owing to fake forwarded messages on WhatsApp. The company announced unrestricted research rewards of up to $50,000 in India for proposals from social scientists and research groups about projects to “enrich” the company’s understanding of the fake news problem.
WhatsApp also limited forwarding messages on the platform and started labelling forwards to help people differentiate between messages that are written by the sender and those that are simply forwarded.
Although there are still loopholes in WhatsApp’s strategy to mark forwards, we may see continued efforts by the company to curb the issue of fake news in India. Especially because it was recently reported that the Indian government is looking to on devise a way to block social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Telegraph during crisis situations. The Department of Telecom (DoT) has asked Indian telecom service providers to explore and suggest ways to block popular social media apps in the interest of the public during situations when the national security is under threat.