WhatsApp and Facebook group admins in India can be jailed if found sharing fake news in the groups. Varanasi District Magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra and Senior Superintendent of Police Nitin Tiwari have issued a joint order.

The order explains, “There are several groups on social media which are named on newsgroups and also groups with other names which are propagating news and information which is not authentic. These are being forwarded without cross-checking.”

The local administration in Varanasi made a move in response to the concerns over misusing social media to publish fake news. Morphed videos and photographs with fabricated narratives may trigger tension and an even communal rift in an area.

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Social media platforms allow its users to create groups to share their views, photos, and videos. However, there is no explicit law to govern these, and the liability of the group administrators is unclear. Last year, Delhi High Court issued an order that admins aren’t liable for content posted by other group members.

Apparently, the Varanasi order declares that WhatsApp and Facebook group admins should bear the responsibility of the groups. The group admin should add only know persons to the group. If any fake statement is made, he/she must deny it on the group or remove the member from the group.

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“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,” the order says.

The order says that the derivative about the same will be issued to social media group administrators and members.

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