WhatsApp admins beware! You can be jailed for offensive posts

WhatsApp Group Admins Legally Responsible for Shared Posts Says Varanasi DM's Order

The order has been issued to curb fake news, doctored photos, and offensive videos from being posted.

Varanasi District Magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra and Superintendent of Police Nitin Tiwari issued a joint order that says that a FIR (first investigation report) would be filed against a group admin if the information is factually incorrect, misleading or is a rumour, which can trigger tension and communal discord in a specific area.

There are several groups on social media that are named on news groups and also groups with other names that are propagating news and information that is not authentic. The former has over 200 million users in India, while the latter has 166 million.

There were many fake news which are being circulated in the WhatsApp group. The order goes directly against a Delhi High Court verdict previous year which decreed that admins can't be held responsible for content shared by others. The information is being communicated to social media groups on WhatsApp and Facebook to remind its administrators of the sense of responsibility they have.

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If you are one of the admins on WhatsApp or Facebook group, then you need to be extra careful as a single offensive post or fake news might land you in jail.

"While freedom of expression on social media is important, it also comes with a responsibility", the order said. The admin "must" delete the content, and report the sender of that message to the nearest police station. "These are being forwarded without cross checking", the official order read, PTI reported.

Group administrators have to deny fake messages that can cause religious disharmony and should remove the member from the social media group.

The order also commands the admin to add only those persons, whom they personally know. The order says anyone found guilty of sharing such messages would face cases under the IPC and cyber laws. The orders of the Supreme Court and the high courts will be final while taking action.