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While there have been many incidents of WhatsApp group admins being arrested and charged with various allegations, as of now the group administrators of the popular messaging platform can relax a bit.
As reported by Legally India, in a recent ruling, the Delhi High Court has recognized the problem of placing the burden on administrators. As such, the Court has given a verdict stating that group admins of online social media groups will not be held liable for content posted by other members on their groups.
As per the reports, the matter was actually related to cases where admins of two groups on Telegram and Google Groups were sued for defamation. However, as the case progressed, the Court took into account the fact that messages posted in WhatsApp groups did not require the administrator's prior approval.
Hence, the court made it clear that making an administrator of an online platform liable for defamation would be akin to making the manufacturer of newsprint on which defamatory statements are published liable for defamation.
Nonetheless, getting back to the real problem, this is not the only incident concerning WhatsApp group admins. Earlier, multiple people have been arrested across India for online speech, and for content distributed on WhatsApp.
In fact, in April 2016, two separate state governments in India had issued directives making social media group administrators liable for content disseminated by other members of the group.
From what it looks like, following the two directives issued in April, the Delhi High Court has now ruled out any such possibility. Significantly, this is indeed a welcome move in an increasingly sensitive cyberspace in India, where the state authorities and civil society are engaged in a debate on internet censorship.
More importantly, the Delhi HC has shed some clarity on the complex question regarding WhatsApp group admins with this ruling.