Offensive WhatsApp posts can land group admin in jail

Elizabeth Williams
April 21, 2017

The social media has several fake news and doctored images.

But all of this is about to change thanks to the order issued by Varanasi District Magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra and Senior Superintendent of Police Nitin Tiwari, according to which any information that is factually incorrect or misleading on a social media group could result in an FIR against the group admin. There are over 200 million WhatsApp users in India while Facebook has 166 million. The order goes directly against a Delhi High Court verdict past year which decreed that admins can't be held responsible for content shared by others. Administrators who don't take any action will be considered guilty.

So now it is up to group admins to add only wise people in his group and advise them not to share any fake stuff. Such a post must also be reported to the nearest police station, it says. The group administrator of any social group can be out to jail upon the posting of an offensive post in the group. The order directs that the group administrator rebut messages with wrong statements and unconfirmed news that could trigger rumour or disturb social harmony and remove the member who posted the message. "These are being forwarded without cross checking", it said.

Aiming to curb the menace of fake news, the Varanasi administration has issued a new order, wherein group administrators on WhatsApp can be arrested if offensive posts are uploaded on that group.

As per the order, if any of the above-mentioned posts is circulated via these groups, then the relevant cyber-crime law, Information Technology Act and IPC acts would be used to arrest the admins. The order also made it clear that orders of Supreme Court and various high courts will be considered while initiating action.

It needs to be seen how Varanasi police which is facing severe staff crunch implements such an order as WhatsApp and social media are not limited to the boundaries of the district.

Other reports by VgToday

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