India, considered as one of the biggest internet markets in the world, has its share of troubles with fake news. In light of the meeting held by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on October 24, along with senior officials of the ministry of home affairs, security agencies, ministry of IT/electronics and the DoT, the government has directed the global internet and social media platforms to take concrete steps and develop a mechanism to monitor the spread of rumors and fake news inciting unrest, cybercrimes and other activities that could be detrimental to the national security.
“The attendees of the meeting included representatives from Facebook, Google, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Instagram.”
Data scientists have stated deep concerns over the fake news in India, primarily spread through WhatsApp, with recent events serving as testimony which led to several deaths due to lynching over a spread of false news in the country.
The meeting was held as a review session of preventive measures taken by the social media handles with the aim to eliminate undesirable elements created my miscreants for the misuse of online platforms to threaten the national security. The representatives briefed the panel about the actions taken by them to ensure
blocking of websites with malicious content.
The home secretary has asked the social media companies to develop a robust mechanism for time-bound prevention and undertake other actions to remove objectionable content from public view and prompt sharing of information sought by Law Enforcement Agencies.
It has also suggested nominating India-based Grievance Redressal Officers and developing a monitoring and filtering mechanism to check content.
All the global internet companies have agreed to abide by the provisions and act in compliance with the Ministry.
WhatsApp has been facing severe troubles in the country after it was accused of peddling rumors that lead to several incidents of violence. The company has also been stuck in a limbo for the launch of its payments service “WhatsApp Pay” in India following concerns over the fake news in the country.
Following steps have been taken by WhatsApp to curb the spread of rumors:
- Launching of the new “forward” label which highlights when a message has
been forwarded versus composed by the sender.
- Rolled out a radio campaign across Indian states to raise awareness against
- Appointing Komal Lahiri as grievance officer in India.
- Capped the limit of forwards a user can send at one go to five chats.
- To address these concerns, WhatsApp CEO Daniels is considering Hyderabad as a base for WhatsApp’s customer service operations and will be visiting again this year to discuss the distribution of encrypted messages.
Various other social media platforms have also decided to take similar actions like appointing of a grievance
Redressal officers and introducing of third party fact checking programs.
Foreign companies are changing their ways and prioritizing the national need of security from false news and data breach to maintain a steady run in countries like India, which has proven to be a massive market in the past and has a promising future ahead of itself, with the internet forum growing at an exponential rate.