WhatsApp appoints grievance officer for India, but in the US

Sources in the IT ministry reveal the government has taken a grim view of the decision to station the grievance officer in the US. Cyber security experts largely call it a cosmetic move.

WhatsApp appoints grievance officer for India, but in the US
File photo

Facing heat from the Indian government which wants it to be more accountable for content - primarily fake news - being cuicrulated, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has appointed a grievance officer for the country. The catch? The officer will be based in the United States.

The IT ministry had previously said that WhatsApp cannot escape its responsibility for rampant abuse and needed to find originators of provocative and/or fake messages. It had said that a grievance officer must be appointed but sources in the ministry have now clarified that the appointment made in the US serves no purpose. Even cyber security experts have said that a grievance officer for a country based in another country could mean very little for a messenger service of WhatsApp's stature and user base.

Sources also reveal that rules may have to be modified to ensure that pressure is kept up on WhatsApp to have grievance officer appointed for India in India.

Previously, WhatsApp had informed the Indian government that it is building a local team, including an India head, as part of steps to check fake news circulation even as it did not meet the key demand of identifying message originators. This after, the government has sent out two notices to the Facebook-owned company directing it to take urgent measures to curb false information and rumours being spread on the messaging platform.