India has seen a number of violent mob attacks, fuelled by fake news stories shared on social media platforms
The Indian government has asked telcos in the country to explore ways to block social media and news-based apps in case of misuse, according to news site Reuters.
The Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Indian government have been forced into action after a series of fake messages and news stories circulated on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, lead to vigilante style lynchings and other violent reprisals.
“You are … requested to explore various possible options and confirm how the Instagram/Facebook/Whatsapp/Telegram and such other mobile apps can be blocked on internet,” said a government letter seen by Reuters.
With 1.2 billion mobile subscribers and average data consumption levels in India growing exponentially, the sub-continent represents a huge market for social media companies.
In response to regulatory pressure from TRAI and the Indian government, WhatsApp has already taken steps to prevent misuse of its platform. Last month it agreed to limit the number of people a user could forward a message to, to 5 – a measure aimed at preventing the proliferation of fake news.
Neither Facebook nor its subsidiary Whatsapp have publicly commented on the matter.
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