WhatsApp has around 200 million users in India. It is one of the most downloaded applications in India. It is one of the most popular applications in India as every age group and almost every smartphone is equipped with WhatsApp. Just like smartphone WhatsApp has also become a commodity or a must have in India. People even have their entire business based on this the Facebook-owned application.
That being said, the company is right now facing a lot of problems. This problem of misinformation is something which the company is trying to deal with from a long time. The Indian government has an opinion which the American company cannot accept. The fact that elections are just weeks away makes it even more important for WhatsApp to curb the fake news and the misinformation spread through its app.
Indian government’s stand on this issue is very simple, it wants WhatsApp to track the person who spreads a message that has wrong facts or is fake news and has propaganda behind it. The government is right on their part and that is because there are different kind of violence taking place in the country based on these messages. If the social media companies don’t comply with this then there might be possible jail terms or penalties to be paid to the execs of these companies.
Sources close ET are talking about WhatsApp declining to agree to these terms. This might turn into a raging war as WhatsApp is not willing to break the privacy and freedom of speech it offers. The only thing the government wants is what WhatsApp doesn’t want to give away. This is something which the company might want rethink as the consequences would be extremely harsh.
“WhatsApp feels the proposed guidelines are too broad and not in sync with privacy protection norms that are important to people everywhere. What is expected from the rules is just not possible considering the end-to-end encryption the company provides — it would mean a new product,” a person with knowledge told ET.
If WhatsApp changes the way it operates in India, it might have to change the way it operates all over the world. That is one of the problems. It has to be wary and think of its operations all over the world. The main reason for it to not work in China is similar to this. There are certain ground rules WhatsApp runs on and people use WhatsApp for its security and the privacy it offers. That is the reason it does not want to give up its side of the rope.
It will be interesting to see how this battle goes on. The elections are coming up and it will only lean towards one direction.