WhatsApp India Head Abhijit Bose believes that while the company has been taking steps to curb the spread of misinformation, a lot more has to be done to secure the platform. In Bose’s first statement to the media after taking up the responsibilities as the country head since November 2018, he said that the Facebook-owned messaging platform is committed to keeping their users safe.
The statement came at a time when social media companies are being pulled up by the Indian government to take responsibility about how their platforms are being misused.
“We strongly believe that private messaging is fundamental to safety and we’re pleased that the recent changes we’ve made to limit viral content and educate users is having an impact. This work is never done — there is more that we can and will do. I am going to be listening closely and learning in the months to come, and I look forward to working with stakeholders here in India on our common safety goals,” Bose noted.
Bose’s appointment came in compliance with the government demand to set up an office and recruit a team in India. In August 2018, the central government had ruled that the company will not be allowed to launch its payment service WhatsApp Pay in India till it complies with the demand.
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WhatsApp’s Future Plans In India
According to Bose, the company has plans to make an impact on several aspects of the country. First and foremost, the messaging platform aims to help small entrepreneurs grow their business in the country. According to Bose, WhatsApp has become a platform where small business owners connect with customers, whether by answering questions, sending information, or selling products.
Secondly and perhaps most importantly, the company is looking to launch its payment service in India. After a long debate and trouble over the launch of the payment service, the Reserve Bank of India is currently checking WhatsApp’s adherence to data localisation norms for setting up its proposed payments business.
Thirdly, the company is also looking to build partnership across the country and develop the growing startup ecosystem and deliver critical India-first solutions at scale and speed.
WhatsApp Vs Indian Govt: The Ongoing Debate
Just ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections, the parliamentary committee has been meeting with the representatives of the social media seeking details on their plan to keep their platform safe from misinformation and fake news.
Earlier this week, chief election commissioner Sunil Arora had said that all major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, WhatsApp and Share Chat can accept only pre-certified political advertisements. The companies will also have to share expenditure on it with the Election Commission (EC) and adhere to the “silence period” that comes into effect 48 hours before the polls.
Last month, it was reported that the Indian government had asked the platform to allow more insight of online discourse, even though it means violating end-to-end encryption policy of the social messaging service in order to curb the spread of fake news and pornography.
To this demand, WhatsApp owner Facebook responded by refusing to comply with the government’s demands. The Indian government had also been asking the messaging platform to trace the origin of fake messages being spread across the platform. The company had declined to do so as it would threaten their end-to-end encryption policy.
Last month, WhatsApp communication head Carl Woog had also said that the regulations being proposed by the central government are “threatening the very existence of WhatsApp in its current form”.