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WhatsApp to Deploy Proactive Artificial Intelligence Tools to Check the Spread of Fake Messages

Published by
Sneha Bhardwaj

Social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Twitter will soon deploy ‘proactive, artificial intelligence (AI) based tools’ to check the spread of hate messages and rumours inciting violence and crimes against women, Home Ministry officials said Friday. Anyone found involved in disseminating fake news creating social tension will be identified, name disclosed and prosecuted. This was agreed upon after a series of meetings between representatives of the social media platforms and central government officials led by Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, a Home Ministry official said.

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The social media sites have agreed to deploy ‘proactive, AI-based tools‘ to check the spread of hate messages and rumours inciting violence and crimes against women. Such content will be automatically removed from their platforms, the official said.

There were problems in implementation or enforcement of directives given by law enforcement agencies under the IT Act and the Telegraph Act, but the level of compliance has now gone up to 80% from 60%, while the time taken to take such action has gone down, the official said. The compliance period has come down from 72 hours to 24 hours, and it was agreed that if a case is made out in any incident, the person will be identified, name disclosed and he/she will be prosecuted, the official said.

The social media platforms have engaged NGOs working in the field and appointed grievance redressal cell for prompt action. Earlier, the government had said social media sites were “slow” in removing objectionable or unlawful content which allegedly aided the spread of hate messages, rumours inciting violence and crimes against women and they were warned of strict legal action if they failed to comply with the directives of law enforcement agencies.

In the recent past, some objectionable content which could potentially disrupt public peace or law and order and incite criminal offences, including communal violence, have been posted on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube. Some of these cases were brought to the notice of the Home Ministry. An action was taken for removal of such content after the intervention of the ministry and the Delhi Police.

During the meetings, specific instances of legal requisitions were shown where the Delhi Police had sought removal of content openly inciting violence but the social platforms’ response had been neither “full nor timely”, another official said. Specific legal notices issued by the Delhi Police seeking investigation-related information were also shared with them.

During the series of meetings with all social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Twitter, the government had sensitised them about preventive and other actions to remove unlawful content immediately, another official said.

Gauba had held the meetings in June and October. A series of meetings were conducted by senior officers of the Home Ministry, Delhi Police and police officers of other states to sensitise the country representatives of social medial platforms about the gravity of unlawful or objectionable content posted on their platforms and their possible consequences.

A number of cases have come to the fore in the recent past where social media platforms were used to spread hate messages and rumours inciting violence, including against women, but Internet giants — most of them headquartered outside India — have been allegedly resisting sharing of customer details and message trails citing privacy issues. However, some social media firms have said they are taking necessary steps to stop misuse of their platforms for the spread of fake news, and rumours and hate messages.

Sneha Bhardwaj

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Published by
Sneha Bhardwaj

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