WhatsApp Group Admins Legally Responsible for Shared Posts, Says Varanasi DM's Order

Isaac Cain
April 21, 2017

The order comes in wake of the increasing number of cases where fake news, morphed images and edited videos are being used to create tensions between different communities.

District Magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra and Senior Superintendent of Police, Nitin Tiwari are reported to have issued the order, which states that any fake news, rumour or misleading bit of information spread on social media could lead to an FIR (First Information Report) against the group's administrator, reports PTI.

The order said: "There are several groups on social media which are named on newsgroups and also groups with other names which are propagating news and information which is not authentic".

It is still not clear, as to how Varanasi police will monitor each and every group, and how it will determine which news is fake, and which is offensive. As a result, strict action will take place against the group admin.

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The order says that the derivative about the same will be issued to social media group administrators and members. The admin must take immediate action against such posts to avoid being booked by denying such rumours on the group and removing the member sending such messages from the group. The group administrator of any social group can be out to jail upon the posting of an offensive post in the group.

Disseminating fake news on WhatsApp or Facebook in India could land you behind bars - especially if you're running the offending group. "These are being forwarded without cross checking", it said.

The local administration in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency came up with this new order. The admins are advised to add individuals who are known to them personally to avoid any religious disharmony, rumour etc.

A case under cyber crime law, Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code will be filed in case of violation of these guidelines. The orders of the Supreme Court and the high courts will be final while taking action.

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