Fake & offensive posts in Groups-the Admins of Facebook & WhatsApp can be jailed.

A new move has been taken place by issuing a joint order by Varanasi district magistrate (DM), Yogeshwar Ram Mishra and SP Nitin Tiwari that an FIR ((first investigation report) will  be filed against a social media group’s administrator (admin) if factually incorrect information, rumors, morphed images or misleading information is circulated on her/his social media group.

The joint order states, “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. These are being forwarded without cross-checking.”

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New rules & regulations to implement on:

  • If a fake statement is made by a group member and in-return causes any religious disharmony, or spreads unnecessary rumors, the group admin must deny it on the group and remove the member from the group immediately.
  • In this case of inaction from the group admin, he/she will be considered guilty and action will be taken against the group admin.
  • Such a post must also be reported to the nearest police station so that action can be taken against the member under the law.
  • While initiating action orders of the Supreme Court and various High Courts will be considered
  • “While freedom of expression on social media is important, it also comes with a responsibility,” the order said.

In the act of violation in any of the above guidelines, a case under the Information Technology (IT) Act will be filed.

On this rising action some of the instances of violence that hiked due to misinformation spread of social media are as follows:

  1. How Rumours On Whatsapp Destroyed The Reputation Of The Famous Hyderabadi Hotel
  2. 22-Year-Old Jharkhand Man Arrested For WhatsApp Message On Beef, Dies After Being Tortured In Custody
  3. “Fake News” Shared On Social Media Affects The Whole World; This Crisis Needs To Be Addressed Urgently

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However, it is still not clear as to how will the Varanasi police implement these new rules because they lack in identify incorrect information on social media, hence they will have to set up a secret police groups on Facebook and WhatsApp. The new regulations, under the jurisdiction of the Varanasi police, do not apply for the entire country.

The Drastic move on Indian Platform.

The IT Act is one of the most extreme legislations prevalent in India today.

According to National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) Crime in India report, 3137 arrests were made in 2015 while 2423 arrests were made the previous year. Over all, four people were arrested every 12 hours in 2015 as compared to three in 2014 for violating Section 66A of the IT Act.

Furthermore, when the Varanasi police say that the orders of

The Supreme Court and various High Courts will be initiating the action, the Varanasi police said. They would do well to revisit on December 2016 judgement by the Delhi High Court  where the Court said the administrators of WhatsApp and other social networking services cannot be held guilty of defamation if the members of the group post, obscene messages.

Fake news and morphed images are dangerous therefore policing on social media groups should not be followed. We must find a way to stop this.

Fake news is shared on social media every day. The government is coming up with more rights for citizens at the same time to ensure malicious & wrong information are not spread.

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By: Mamatha
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