Fake news on social media and the inability of the local law enforcement officials to do their job properly has resulted in the loss of several lives in India. Multiple cases of lynching, murder and assault have emerged from people reacting to content they have read or watched on social media platforms.
With its phenomenal reach in India, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has come under special attention. Last month, the Centre asked the messaging service to figure out ways of tracing the origin of fake messages, set up a shop in India, and appoint a grievance officer to address citizen complaints.
“I requested WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels to set up a grievance officer in India; establish a corporate entity in India & comply with Indian laws. He assured me that WhatsApp will soon take steps on all these counts,” said information technology (IT) minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Responding to the government’s call, WhatsApp has taken a slew of measures to tackle the scourge of fake news, including the appointment of Komal Lahiri, the Senior Director of Global Customer Operations and Localisation at WhatsApp, as the company’s grievance officer for India.
According to Financial Express, users can red flag messages disseminated on the platform with sinister intent and submit their complaints to her over email or post.
“To contact the Grievance Officer, please send an email with your complaint or concern and sign with an electronic signature. If you’re contacting us about a specific account, please include your phone number in full international format, including the country code,” said WhatsApp.
Her postal address is:
Attention: Grievance Officer
1601 Willow Road
Menlo Park, California 94025
United States of America
“You (users) can contact the Grievance Officer with complaints or concerns, including the following: WhatsApp’s Terms of Service; and Questions about your account,” said a section within the FAQs on the company website, besides offering users ways to reach out to law enforcement.
The messaging app has over 200 million users in India—making it the company’s biggest market. Little surprise that the company has acted with alacrity even though the problem of mob attacks isn’t really their problem. Read more about why WhatsApp isn’t the real problem here.
The company has also taken a series of steps to stem the mass forwarding of fake messages, images and videos. “In India—where people forward more messages, photos, and videos, than any other country in the world—we’ll also test a lower limit of five chats at once, and we’ll remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” said the company back in July.
Nonetheless, a lot more needs to be done on the government side of things.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)