WhatsApp CEO to meet IT minister today amid fake news controversy

WhatsApp Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chris Daniels is scheduled to meet Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday amid the controversy over viral circulation of fake news on the instant messaging platform.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has already received two notices from the government to check spread of fake news or be liable to be treated as an abettor. The government has toughened its stand on WhatsApp as it wants the platform to tackle the problem of fake messages, which, in many cases has led to mob lynchings. Replying to notices, WhatsApp has said that it would strengthen its presence in India but it has expressed inability in tracing origin of messages citing consumer privacy. “Tracing private messages would undermine the private nature of the app with the potential of serious consequences for free expression, which would be very troubling to many users,” WhatsApp has told the government. This inability has become a bone of contention between WhatsApp and the government. The government feels that platforms like WhatsApp cannot run away from its responsibility to check fake messages by simply naming privacy as an excuse.

WhatsApp has been in talks with the Centre over the past couple of months. The firm’s Chief Operating Officer Matthew Idema had also met IT secretary Ajay Sawhney last month. The messaging app had recently announced that it would limit forwards of photos, videos, and messages to five chats in India and remove the quick forward button next to media messages. 

Also, the platform is testing a label, which marks links sent on chats as ‘suspicious’ in its bid to check spread of fake news and misinformation.

WhatsApp is among the world's biggest messaging platforms, with more than 200 million active users in India. 

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