Given the kind of news we see spreading around social media, the authorities of UP have decided to take matter into their own hands. Going forward, any Facebook or WhatsApp page/group admin will be held directly accountable for the circulation of fake news or unsubstantiated rumors.
This comes from Varanasi where the District Magistrate Ram Mishra and SP Nitin Tiwari have collectively issued a new directive warning page admins about the repercussions of spreading offensive content online. Group admins who do not adhere to the new directive will be booked under the Information Technology Act and IPC Section 66A under the Cyber Crime Law.
They have also advised the admins to choose group members only if they personally know them or are acquainted with them in some way. Further, any member who posts offensive content is demanded to be removed from the group immediately, failing which the group admin will be directly held responsible and will be open for prosecution.
Here’s what the order says “There are several groups on social media which are named on news groups and also groups with other names which are propagating news and information which is not authentic. These are being forwarded without cross-checking. In the event of inaction from the group admin, he or she will be considered guilty and action will be taken against the group admin.”
This is a great move by the officials in Varanasi, although we fear it will only impact this particular region. The Central Government will have to tighten the laws to combat the spreading of fake news and online bullying by social media trolls.