WhatsApp apprises of steps to curb abuse as Centre points at role in instigating violence

A rise in mob-lynching incidents prompted Centre to ask WhatsApp to take immediate steps to prevent the circulation of false information and provocative content.  

WhatsApp apprises of steps to curb abuse as Centre points at role in instigating violence

NEW DELHI: A day after sending a notice to WhatsApp, the government reiterated on Wednesday that it found that disinformation and proactive messages on the instant messaging app played a major role in instigating violence, referring to the recent incidents of lynching in parts of the country.

Addressing mediapersons on Wednesday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that while the government welcomed platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, “they must also remain accountable, responsible and vigilant”.

The minister added that the cross-platform messaging app, which has over 200 million monthly active users in India, have responded to their queries and committed to creating a system where group admins can decide which members “can send messages”.
 
“They also said they're trying to see that messages aren't forwarded without reading&understanding. I appreciate this initiative,” added the Law Minister. 

Facebook-owned messenger service app came under fire following a spate of lynching incidents purportedly triggered by provocative messages circulating on its platform. 

A rise in mob-lynching incidents prompted the Centre on Tuesday to ask WhatsApp to take immediate steps to prevent the circulation of false information and provocative content.

In its response, WhatsApp said that it's "horrified" by the "terrible acts of violence", and outlined steps being taken by the company to curb abuse of the messaging platform.

"We believe that false news, misinformation and the spread of hoaxes are issues best tackled collectively: by government, civil society and technology companies working together," said WhatsApp in a letter to the ministry dated July 3.

The company added that it is giving users controls and information to help them stay safe and that it plans to run long-term public safety advertising campaigns.

"As a starting point, we will soon publish new educational materials around misinformation and conduct our news literacy workshops," WhatsApp said.

The firm has recently added a feature to its app preventing users from re-adding former members of messaging groups and has enabled group administrators to decide who can send messages. It is also testing the labelling of forwarded messages.

With agency inputs

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