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FB, WhatsApp, Twitter and Google questioned about grievance redressal officers in India

The home ministry inquired with Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Google about the appointment of grievance redressal officers for India, reports the Economic Times. While the report does not mention the date of the meeting, it says that the government has started fortnightly meetings with the social media giants to check the spread of misinformation and fake news on their platforms.

Google has sought an extension of the deadline to November 30, while Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter are yet to provide an appointment date for grievance redressal officers in India. MediaNama has reached out to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Google for a comment. The others are yet to respond, but Twitter told MediaNama it does not have “further details to share at this time.” See Twitter’s full statement at the bottom.

The ET report also points that during a meeting in October, the Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba has asked the social media companies to appoint these officers by 9 November.

Last month, the home ministry also asked the companies to develop monitoring and filtering mechanisms to check content that could be used to spread rumours and promote social unrest, besides appointing grievance redressal officers.

Recent efforts to curb fake news

  • Earlier this month, WhatsApp announced that it would fund 20 research projects into fake news, of which 6 would be in India.
  • Facebook partnered with the news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) to curb the spread of fake news including photos and videos on its platform ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections
  • WhatsApp appointed Komal Lahiri as the Grievance Officer for the country. Note that Lahiri is US based.
  • In September, Facebook announced that it would screen photos and videos for fake news across 17 countries through its 27 independent third–party partners.
  • In August, WhatsApp partnered with the Digital Empowerment Foundation to hold workshops on fake news across the country


Twitter’s statement to MediaNama

“Twitter is committed to keeping people informed about what’s happening in the world. As such we care deeply about the issues of disinformation and nefarious manipulation of our platform, and their potentially harmful effects on the civic and political discourse that is core to our mission. We appreciate the importance of the work being undertaken by the Ministry of Home Affairs, and we thank the Ministry for their inclusive engagement. Discussions with the Ministry are still ongoing and we have no further details to share at this time.”

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