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WhatsApp admins beware: Offensive posts can land you in jail

21 April 2017

If there is communally divisive, factually incorrect or misleading content posted on the group, the admin must take instant action against such posts by denying such rumours and also remove the member sending such message in the group, said the joint order issued by Varanasi District Magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra and Superintendent of Police Nitin Tiwari.

Are you a group admin on either WhatsApp or Facebook group, then here is an alert news for you.

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A case under cyber crime law, Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code will be filed in case of violation of these guidelines. Failure to do so may result in action been taken on the particular group admin in accordance with the new rule.

The Bench said, "When an online platform is created, the creator thereof can not expect any of the members thereof to indulge in defamation, and defamatory statements made by any member of the group can not make the administrator liable". This bold move is in line to kerb fake news, doctored images and offensive videos from being circulated through social media.

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The order covers administrators of Facebook groups and other social media groups as well. It also says that administrators were responsible for the content being posted on the group.

An official in district administration said the order has been issued because certain people were posting "baseless" reports on social media groups and were connecting them reports with the PM's constituency. "These are being forwarded without cross-checking".

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For some users, having the admin rights over a Facebook or a WhatsApp group gives a sense of power. The order also made it clear that orders of Supreme Court and various high courts will be considered while initiating action, reports PTI. It directed that social media group administrators should be ready to bear the responsibility and ownership of the groups. Moreover, PTI points out that the Varanasi police is facing a severe staff crunch, making it hard to carry out the order effectively.

WhatsApp admins beware: Offensive posts can land you in jail