It has been made clear in an order that any factually incorrect, rumor or misleading information, on a social media group, such as WhatsApp or Facebook, could result in an FIR against the group admin.
The joint order was issued by the District Magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra and Senior Superintendent of Police Nitin Tiwari of Varanasi, on Wednesday.
So, think twice before becoming an administrator of a group on WhatsApp or Facebook, as one is liable for prosecution if any rumor or fake news is circulated on it.
The social media platforms, allows a person to form groups on which members can share views, pictures or videos. Certain concerns have been raised about the misuse of social media, as fake news, morphed photographs and disturbing videos with fake local narratives can easily be circulated. This can raise tension and even create communal rift in an area. The joint order stated, “There are several groups on social media which are named on news groups and also groups with other names which are propagating news and information which is not authentic. These are being forwarded without cross checking.”
The order said, considering this issue, the directives are being issued to administrators and members of social media groups, WhatsApp and Facebook group. Around 200 million users are using WhatsApp in India. The order further directed that the administrators of social media groups, should be ready to bear the responsibility and ownership of the groups. The admin must include only those members, who are personally known to him/her. The order further stated that, of any statement is made by any member of the group, which is fake or any rumor, then the group admin must deny it on the group, and remove the member from the group immediately.
“In the event of inaction from the group admin, he or she will be considered guilty and action will be taken against the group admin,” it said. Such a post must also be reported to the nearest police station, so that action can be taken against the member under the law. The order, further said, “while freedom of expression on social media is important, it also comes with a responsibility.”