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Maharashtra Cyber Police issues advisory for WhatsApp users and admins to curb fake news

The advisory issued in a bid to curtail hate speech and other misinformation says that whoever violates rules will be punished under relevant sections of the law

Sabrangindia 09 Apr 2020

Fake NewsImage Courtesy:cnbctv18.com

While already the coronavirus pandemic is keeping authorities on their toes, another pandemic – the one of misinformation spread through social media, especially WhatsApp which has a large reach in the country, is plaguing the nation.

Fake messages, doctored videos, treatments for Covid-19 wrongly attributed to medical professional and the latest – fake videos invoking communal hatred are making the rounds on the free messaging platform.

In light of this, the Maharashtra Cyber Police has come out with a WhatsApp advisory for users and admins of groups to curb this nuisance.

In the advisory issued by the Office of the Special Inspector General of Police, Maharashtra Cyber are specific guidelines laid down for members of groups, admins of groups and consequences of spreading fake news and indulging in hate speech.

For members

It has asked members of groups to not post hate speech, fake news and any misinformation in groups, apart from not forwarding or circulating such news gotten from other members. It has also asked members to check the veracity of posts / images / videos received and immediately delete objectionable material.

For admins

For admins, the cyber-crime department has them to ensure that every group member is reliable and responsible enough to only share verified news. Admins must also inform everyone about the rules of posting in the group and warn members about sharing objectionable content. The department has asked admins to keep a hawk eye on the content shared and inform the police if there is any objectionable content being shared in the group despite warnings.

Action for violation of rules

The cyber police has also warned offenders of strict action under the Indian Penal Code in case the advisory is not followed. The advisory says that admins as well as users posting objectionable content will be punished under Section 153A, 153B, 295A, 505 and 88 of the IPC, apart from Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, Section 68 of the Bombay Police Act, 1951 and Sections 144 and 144(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973 which deal with offences relating to promoting enmity between different groups, actions intended to outrage religious feelings, spreading of false and fake news to upset public tranquility and punishing someone spreading providing misleading information related to the severity of the epidemic thus causing panic.

Prior to the advisory by the Maharashtra cyber police, WhatsApp too has tightened sharing limits. From Wednesday, the messages that have been classified as frequently forwarded messages or sent over five times can now be forwarded to a single chat at a time.

The complete advisory by the Maharashtra Cyber Police may be read below.

Related:

Is the apex court order making COVID testing free, feasible?
Mumbai and Pune make mask wearing compulsory in public amid Covid-19 outbreak    

Maharashtra Cyber Police issues advisory for WhatsApp users and admins to curb fake news

The advisory issued in a bid to curtail hate speech and other misinformation says that whoever violates rules will be punished under relevant sections of the law

Fake NewsImage Courtesy:cnbctv18.com

While already the coronavirus pandemic is keeping authorities on their toes, another pandemic – the one of misinformation spread through social media, especially WhatsApp which has a large reach in the country, is plaguing the nation.

Fake messages, doctored videos, treatments for Covid-19 wrongly attributed to medical professional and the latest – fake videos invoking communal hatred are making the rounds on the free messaging platform.

In light of this, the Maharashtra Cyber Police has come out with a WhatsApp advisory for users and admins of groups to curb this nuisance.

In the advisory issued by the Office of the Special Inspector General of Police, Maharashtra Cyber are specific guidelines laid down for members of groups, admins of groups and consequences of spreading fake news and indulging in hate speech.

For members

It has asked members of groups to not post hate speech, fake news and any misinformation in groups, apart from not forwarding or circulating such news gotten from other members. It has also asked members to check the veracity of posts / images / videos received and immediately delete objectionable material.

For admins

For admins, the cyber-crime department has them to ensure that every group member is reliable and responsible enough to only share verified news. Admins must also inform everyone about the rules of posting in the group and warn members about sharing objectionable content. The department has asked admins to keep a hawk eye on the content shared and inform the police if there is any objectionable content being shared in the group despite warnings.

Action for violation of rules

The cyber police has also warned offenders of strict action under the Indian Penal Code in case the advisory is not followed. The advisory says that admins as well as users posting objectionable content will be punished under Section 153A, 153B, 295A, 505 and 88 of the IPC, apart from Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, Section 68 of the Bombay Police Act, 1951 and Sections 144 and 144(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973 which deal with offences relating to promoting enmity between different groups, actions intended to outrage religious feelings, spreading of false and fake news to upset public tranquility and punishing someone spreading providing misleading information related to the severity of the epidemic thus causing panic.

Prior to the advisory by the Maharashtra cyber police, WhatsApp too has tightened sharing limits. From Wednesday, the messages that have been classified as frequently forwarded messages or sent over five times can now be forwarded to a single chat at a time.

The complete advisory by the Maharashtra Cyber Police may be read below.

Related:

Is the apex court order making COVID testing free, feasible?
Mumbai and Pune make mask wearing compulsory in public amid Covid-19 outbreak    

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