After Govt Pressure Over Fake News, WhatsApp Appoints Grievance Officer For India

| September 23 , 2018 , 16:33 IST

Pressured by the Indian government to clamp down on spread of fake news, WhatsApp has appointed a grievance officer for the nation, and detailed the process for users to flag their concerns and complaints, media reported on Sunday. 

In the wake of mob lynchings spurred by rumours spreading on the instant messaging app, the Indian government had pressured WhatsApp to find a way to trace the origin of suspicious messages and set up a grievance officer.

While WhatsApp claimed that tracing messages would violate its privacy policy, the Facebook-owned company has updated its website to reflect the appointment of a 'Grievance Officer for India'.

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As per the update, users can seek help through the mobile app, send an email or write to Komal Lahiri, who is based out of the US and is senior director, global customer operations and localisation, of WhatsApp.

The grievance officer for India being based in the US is in tune with similar practices by other US tech giants, sources said.

In order to register a complaint, users can reach out to the WhatsApp support team directly fromt he app under the 'Settings' tab and if the users wish to escalate the complaint they can reach out to the Grievance Officer directly. The update FAQs also detail how law enforcement officials can reach out to WhatsApp.

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"You (users) can contact the Grievance Officer with complaints or concerns, including the following: WhatsApp's Terms of Service; and Questions about your account," the FAQs on the website state.

India's Supreme Court had last month agreed to examine a petition claiming that WhatsApp does not comply with Indian laws, including the provision for appointing a grievance officer, and the apex court had sought a reply on the issue within 4 weeks.

Currently, India is WhatsApp's biggest market with more than 200 million users. In July, in the aftermath of mob lynchings triggered by fake news forwarded on social media, WhatsApp restricted forwarding of messages to 5 chats at a time and also introduced a 'forward' label marking messages that had been forwarded.

Ramesh kayada

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