Mobile Internet

Indian government will shut down social media applications if they fail to cut down the fake news

WhatsApp on mobile phone

Fake news is the order of WhatsApp as people read one or more fake news every single day. There was a time when Bollywood stars were dying suddenly on WhatsApp and they had to tweet to tell people that they are here and alive. Such was the condition. Fake news creates wrong impressions amongst people as well, it can start a religious war. And a medium which is so strong and has such a vast population should take note of it and has an invisible responsibility to top such a hideous thing.

WhatsApp has over 200 million users in India and one fake news can cause a rampage. There are many things that can hurt people’s sentiments in India. There are things that will clearly be harmful to a group and then there might be political agendas which might make a huge political party collapse and this can just happen because of a fake message.

The Indian government has already named ten agencies which will know everything you do on your computer and had asked WhatsApp to take action against fake news and propaganda based messages. WhatsApp was reluctant at first as the company told the Indian government that it cannot trace back the message’s origin as the chats might be encrypted. This is where the government chipped in and created new guidelines in August of 2018.

In the same year, government prompted WhatsApp again to curb the fake messages. A month later, WhatsApp took the matters in its own hands and appointed a grievance officer in India. In October, the government again opened talks with the companies and asked to take care of rumors and fake news. Move into November, WhatsApp had sidelined $1 million to stop the spread of misinformation. It was acting on Indian government’s opinion on bringing in technology that will take care of such messages.

The Indian government opened a dialogue with WhatsApp once again in December. This time it was to order it to trace back the messages so that they could press charges on the people spreading rumors and fake news. Last month, the government took another harsh step and now has asked all the social media giants to control it and if they fail to do so, they will be shut down.

The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs said that the government is holding meetings time and again with the social media companies and also within the government bodies. The discussions are moving forward and even WhatsApp is looking to put a stop on the fake news and rumors. This will take time but as elections are closing in on us thick and fast, there are many companies trying to do the same.

WhatsApp has even put out TV advertisements and is doing whatever it can outside of technically handling it to put an end to this. Everyone will have to be patient as containing the messages of 200 million people is hard and finding fake news and tracing it is even harder.

-Unmesh Phule

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