After row of lynching incidents in the country, the Indian government has sent another notice to WhatsApp seeking more effective ways to keep a check on fake messages. The centre has asked the company to come up with more effective solutions that bring more accountability and facilitates law enforcement in addition to labelling forwards and identifying fake news.
A 2000-person mob lynched a 27-year old man on the baseless rumours that he was a child lifter. However, only 25 men were arrested on Sunday. With several hoaxes and fake messages circulating on the platform, a Facebook-owned messaging application has been criticised intensely over the past few months that has led to deadly mob violence across the country. According to the report from Guardian, at least 20 lynching incidents have been reported in the country over the period of 2 months caused due to child abduction allegations. WhatsApp to Cap Message Forwarding to 5 Chats in India to Curb Fake News Circulation.
Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) said in a statement that “WhatsApp has been requested on Thursday to come out with more effective solutions that can bring in accountability and facilitate enforcement of the law in addition to their efforts towards labelling forwards and identifying fake news. It has been conveyed to them in unmistakable terms that it is a severe issue which deserves a more sensitive response.”
The ministry also said, “There is a need for bringing in traceability and accountability when a provocative/inflammatory message is detected, and law enforcement agencies make a request. When rumours and fake news get propagated by mischief mongers, the medium used for such propagation cannot evade responsibility and accountability. If they remain, mute spectators, they are liable to be treated as abettors and after that face consequent legal action”.
WhatsApp recently started labelling forward messages to curb on fake messages so that one can quickly identify the news as a forward. The government has made it clear that if the platform remain, mute spectators, they are liable to face legal action. Mob-lynching Cases: Government Asks WhatsApp for Solutions to Curb Fake News Beyond Labelling Forwards.
It is also reported that the company is likely to enforce a forwarding limit on messages, videos & photos across its platform. With the forwarding limit on its media, the company will introduce a limit of 5 chats at once. If the user sends five forwards, the platform will automatically disable the forwarding option. Moreover, Facebook-owned messaging service might also remove the quick forward button on the media messages.