Fake news: safety measures by WhatsApp inadequate, says Ravi Shankar Prasad

The Union Minister was speaking in Parliament on the misuse of social media platforms to spread rumours and fake news.

July 26, 2018 05:45 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:55 pm IST - New Delhi

The measures recently announced by social media platform whatsapp are not adequate and the government wants them to come up with “better technological solutions”, Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday in Parliament.

Speaking during a debate on misuse of social media platforms to spread rumours and fake news leading to rising incidents of violence and lynching Mr. Prasad said that the incidents are “deeply painful and regretful”. The government had issued a notice to Whatsapp on this issue.

 

The Whatsapp have taken steps to increase the friction in propogation of content on the platform by reducing the number of forwards to five and also indicating whether an incoming message is either a forward or originally composed by the sender. “They also plan to remove the forward button in case of video or audio message and they have informed that they will bring in fake news check mechanism. This is not adequate to meet the challenges. We have told them to come up with better technological solution so that misuse of the platform is avoided,” he said in Rajya Sabha.

Out of 150 crore Whatsapp users worldwide, 20 crores are in India.

At the same time, he said, the government can’t be held responsible for these incidents. “Govt is committed to freedom of speech and privacy as enshrined in the constitution of India. Government does not regulate the content appearing on the social media. These social media though are required to follow due diligence as provided in section 79 of the IT Act 2000. They have also to follow Article 19(2) of the Constition and ensure that their platforms are not used to commit and provoke terrorism, extremism, violence and crime,” he said.

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