WhatsApp sets up India-based team to fight fake news circulation – Technology News, Firstpost



WhatsApp informed the government that it was setting up a local team, including the leader of India, as part of the measures to verify the circulation of fake news, but did not respond to a key request from identify the authors of the messages, according to official sources.

The popular messaging app is under fire for abuse of its streaming platform. fake news which aroused the fury of the crowd.

The informatics ministry official said that WhatsApp responded to the government’s latest advisory, outlining initiatives taken to curb the flow of fake news, including education and advocacy efforts.

It is also in the process of assembling a team based in India, the official said, but noted that the measures do not meet the government’s expectations for “traceability” and attribution of such messages.

WhatsApp, for its part, argued that the messaging attributions would “undermine the private nature” of the platform and leave it potentially vulnerable to “serious abuse,” a company official said.

Representative image.

When contacted, a spokesperson for WhatsApp said, “To support our users in India and continue our investment in the country, it is our top priority to hire a local leader who can help us build a team on the ground. “

The two leadership positions currently open for India are: Head of India and Head of Policy.

“People rely on WhatsApp for all kinds of sensitive conversations, including with their doctors, banks and families. Police also use WhatsApp to discuss investigations and report crimes.

“Messaging over WhatsApp would undermine the private nature of WhatsApp and create the potential for serious misuse. Our goal is to improve WhatsApp and to work closely with other members of society to keep people safe. “, added the spokesperson.

WhatsApp said it believes the mob violence challenge requires government, civil society and tech companies to work together. “This is why we have already made important product changes to help slow the spread of disinformation and we are working to educate people on how to spot fake news,” WhatsApp said.

Expressing its deep commitment to helping people across India communicate safely, securely and reliably, WhatsApp noted that its COO, Matt Idema, had recently visited India and met with representatives of the Ministry of Informatics.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Informatics.  Image: PTI

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law and Information Technology. Image: PTI

Meanwhile, the ministry official who declined to be named said that WhatsApp, in its response, informed the government that it had registered a legal entity in India. But the platform did not commit to “message traceability and attribution,” the official said, adding that this had been one of the government’s main demands.

As a result, the ministry’s concerns have not been addressed and the potential for abuse persists, the source said.

Last month, the government expressed its displeasure with the measures previously documented by WhatsApp to verify fake news which in several cases sparked violence from the crowd.

The IT ministry, in its letter, said the platform could not escape its responsibility for these rampant abuses and needed to find the authors of the provocative messages.

The government, in its second opinion to the Facebook-owned messaging service, warned that in the absence of adequate controls, it would treat the messaging platform as an accomplice in the spread of rumors and that legal consequences would arise. would follow.

WhatsApp rumors sparked a string of incidents involving mob violence

The incidents have raised eyebrows and the Supreme Court last month called on parliament to consider enacting a new law to deal effectively with incidents of mob lynching, saying “horrific acts of mobocracy” cannot not become a new standard. The Minister of Law and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, also informed the Rajya Sabha that he would hold a discussion with stakeholders, including political parties, to develop a policy to combat the use social media abuse.

Over the past few weeks, WhatsApp has introduced a new feature to allow its users to identify the messages transferred, the restricted number of transfers at a time and full-page ads providing “easy tips” for spotting fake news.

But the Ministry of Informatics has called on WhatsApp to provide more effective solutions, to ensure greater “accountability and ease of law enforcement” beyond existing efforts to label information and identify fake news. .


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