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WhatsApp to let group admins delete messages, raising concerns over accountability

Although the feature is still in the design phase, it has raked up concerns over free speech and intermediary liability.

WhatsApp will soon allow group admins to moderate content by permitting them to delete messages of members of the group, according to a tweet by WABetaInfo. The feature is in the developmental stage and is expected to be released as the beta versions for Android in the future. https://twitter.com/WABetaInfo/status/1486469172024520708 Once a group admin deletes a message, the following message will replace it: “This message was deleted by an admin.” WhatsApp has not revealed any details about the feature. WABetaInfo, a WhatsApp features tracker, also reported that the company was looking to change the time limit for deleting a message to 2 days and 12 hours. It was earlier planning to extend it to a week. Currently, the app allows people to delete messages within 1 hour, 8 minutes and 16 seconds. The feature, once rolled out, is likely to help admins delete content they deem as objectionable. On the other hand, it will trigger a debate on the liability of group admins for the content posted by the members of the group. What will be the implications of this feature? Treads very close to impinging on freedom of expression: Siddharth Jain, Co-Founding Partner, PSL Advocates & Solicitors said that the new feature is ruffling feathers since its announcement but there cannot be a straightforward explanation to it. “It is correct that it treads very close to 'freedom of expression' but no freedom is always absolute. This feature is more like a 'moderation' which gains importance because some unsavory messages might be imposed upon…

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I cover several beats such as Crypto, Telecom, and OTT at MediaNama. I can be found loitering at my local theatre when I am off work consuming movies by the dozen.

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