The government has started holding fortnightly meetings with social media companies such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Google ahead of the general election with a view to keep a check on the spread of misinformation.
According to reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs called officials from the social media companies to get an update on their appointment of grievance redressal officers for the country.
The development comes after an October meeting held by Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba, in which the companies were asked to appoint grievance officers in India by November 9. The companies were also asked to develop a mechanism to prevent the misuse of their platform.
While Google has requested for an extension of the deadline (to comply with the directive) till November 30, WhatsApp had already appointed Komal Lahiri as its grievance officer in India prior to the meeting. The company is also looking to hire an associate general counsel to take care of the regulatory and litigation matters.
According to reports, WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels also said that the company is looking to appoint a head for the Indian unit.
Further, US-based microblogging platform Twitter is looking for a country director to head its operations in India.
Responding to an email query, a Twitter spokesperson told Inc42 that discussions with the ministry over the matter are still going on.
Following the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal and a series of killings in India due to the spread of rumours over WhatsApp, the Indian government has been maintaining a strict stance and trying to figure out ways to curb the spread of misinformation on social platforms.
Earlier this month, Gauba pointed out that Twitter was being “slow” in removing unlawful content that could be a potential threat to peace.
In order to gain the government’s trust, senior executives of these social media companies have undertaken several trips to the country in a bid to understand the government’s requirements and plug the loopholes.
WhatsApp has been especially trying to comply with the directives. Recently, it also committed $1 Mn to research so as to understand how the platform is being misused.
[The development was reported by ET.]