WhatsApp update: This messenger is fooling government, say these experts
In its reply to the government, WhatsApp has also said that it will start a dialogue with academic experts of India to understand the reason that helps in spreading fake messages and rumours. It will try to find out the feature that should be included in its product to stop its users from spreading fake information. But experts say that the initiatives of the messaging platform add up to nothing and the government should be more stringent to stop such incidents.
WhatsApp has outlined steps being taken by the company to curb abuse of the messaging platform. In its detailed response to the government, WhatsApp has said false news, misinformation and spread of hoaxes are issues that need to be dealt with collectively, by government, civil society and technology companies working together.
In its response, the instant messaging app that is owned by Facebook said that it is testing a labelling feature that will inform the users about the source of the message .i.e. is the message received by him is a forwarded message or a self-written message. This labeling feature will be launched soon.
Earlier, the government had issued a stern warning to the social media platform asking it to take immediate measures to prevent the spread of irresponsible messages. But, the messaging platform's response raises a question and that is, will the new features be able to stop people from spreading fake messages and rumours. At least, when many states of the country, like Assam, Tripura and Maharashtra, have seen incidents of mob lynching of innocent people. These incidents were fueled by rumours saying that the victims were part of a child lifting gang that is functioning in the area or in the state.
To better understand the efficiency of the aforementioned Whatsapp features, Zee Business's Shiv Prakash Yadav approached cyber experts with a question - will it be able to control the spread of fake messages and rumours? Disturbingly, it was said that the probability is equal to zero.
"Beta version of the labeling feature has been launched in which a tick mark will be visible on forwarded messages on the messaging platform. I don't think that the feature will help in controlling the spread of fake news," said Jiten Jain, Cyber Expert.
"There are chances that people will continue to forward the forwarded messages even after the feature is launched. I feel concrete steps should be taken to control the spread of these fake news," says Pawan Duggal, Cyber Expert. He added, "WhatsApp is talking about a futuristic feature. But the question is what you are doing when the country is burning. What are you doing to stop transmission of a fake information on your network? I can see their silence on this issue".
In its reply to the government, WhatsApp has also said that it will start a dialogue with academic experts of India to understand the reason that helps in spreading fake messages and rumours. It will try to find out the feature that should be included in its product to stop its users from spreading fake information.
But experts say that the initiatives of the messaging platform add up to nothing and the government should be more stringent to stop such incidents.
Jiten Jain adds, "WhatsApp is just fooling the government, who should take strict actions. WhatsApp should save the location of the origin of the message along with the IP address of the message creator and his/her mobile number. The mechanism will allow WhatsApp to know the person who created the message for the first time. In addition, it should provide the same data to the law enforcement agencies, when they ask for it".
Earlier on June 29, 2018, WhatsApp launched a Send Message feature for groups. The feature enables the group's administrator to stop other members from posting messages in the group.
In addition, WhatsApp says that it has tied up with some investigating organisations that will be identifying the fake news being circulated on the network and inform the users about the same.
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However, not everything is lost and that there is hope. Experts believe that although these measures are inadequate, they feel that Whatsapp can stop the circulation of fake information and rumours to a large extent by adopting the provisions mentioned in the Information Technology Act of India.
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