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Government contemplates sending second notice to WhatsApp to curb fake news

19-July-2018
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Government contemplates sending second notice to WhatsApp to curb fake news

A recent spate of mob lynching has seen a common trend- the spread of false information through WhatsApp.

Earlier this month, the Central Government, in an effort to mitigate the problem, has sent out a strict warning to WhatsApp, asking the messaging platform to introduce relevant technology to curb the spread of fake news.

According to media reports, the government has set up a committee to examine the need to send another notice after deeming Whatsapp’s reply to the first notice sent to the IT Ministry as unsatisfactory. The committee will also identify specific technical measures WhatsApp may be requested to take. The Central Government also suggested that similar to the ways in which WhatsApp can locate and target specific groups and audiences for advertising purposes, it can also employ methods to identify groups which are involved in the spread of false information and inciting violence.

WhatsApp insists that it has taken several measures to ensure that its platform is not being used for the wrong purposes as it has launched new preventative measures, and that will launch public safety campaigns in India and publish material around spreading false information.

The company has also launched a digital literacy campaign and has enabled a forwarded message notification in an effort to curb the spread of false information on its platform. It is also collaborating with fact checkers and local police to work out the issue.

In May this year, the Government said it may set up a “social media analytical tool” which would create digital profiles of citizens so that their opinions on public policies can be gauged with an aim to personalise campaigns to promote positive opinions about government policies.

The Supreme Court however has taken strong cognisance of these recent developments and observed that such measures will be “like creating a surveillance state”.

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