Offensive WhatsApp posts can land group admin in jail: Varanasi administration

Offensive posts—such as rumours or fake news—circulated through Whats App or Facebook groups can land the group admin in jail

Offensive WhatsApp posts can land group admin in jail: Varanasi administration

It is all because of people misusing social media sites to publish the fake pictures, news, and videos to gain some popularity and create a communal rift in few sensitive areas.

In an interesting turn of event, Varanasi's District Magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra and Senior Superintendent of Police Nitin Tiwari have issued a joint order, according to which Admins of any WhatsApp or Facebook group can be arrested, if any offensive or fake news is being spread via their respective groups.

"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". While many of these WhatsApp messages are harmless - some may call them annoying - forwards, you would've no doubt received "news" stories that don't quite seem right, but you end up forwarding them to another WhatsApp group anyway because they seemed interesting. It also says that administrators were responsible for the content being posted on the group. In a case of disturbing post, the users can report the same to the nearest police station.

The order stipulates that group administrators must remove members responsible for offending posts from a group. 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.

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. "These are being forwarded without cross-checking".

"While freedom of expression on social media is important, it also comes with a responsibility", the order said.

Think twice before becoming administrator of a group on WhatsApp or Facebook as one is liable for prosecution if any rumour or fake news is circulated on it.

The local administration in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency came up with this new order. The order says anyone found guilty of sharing such messages would face cases under the IPC and cyber laws. The order also made it clear that orders of Supreme Court and various high courts will be considered while initiating action.

However, it remains to be seen how Varanasi police, which is facing severe staff crunch, implements such an order on social media are not limited to the boundaries of the district.

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