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WhatsApp warns Indian political parties to stop misuse during elections
No misuse of the messaging service will be tolerated.
Indian political parties have been misusing Facebook-owned messaging service - WhatsApp ahead of general elections, and the company has strictly warned the parties to avoid doing so, reports Reuters.
WhatsApp hasn't mentioned the name of the parties or the nature of abuse, but the misuse of the platform is a big concern as the party workers could use automated tools for mass messaging and spread fake news to persuade the voters.
The popular messaging app has become an integral part of campaigns and is used extensively by the workers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposing Congress party. Both of the parties have accused each other of spreading fake news.
"We have seen a number of parties attempt to use WhatsApp in ways that it was not intended, and our firm message to them is that using it in that way will result in bans of our service," said Carl Woog, head of communications for WhatsApp.
WhatsApp isn't new to these challenges, as it faced similar issues ahead of Brazilian elections in October, where the platform was flooded with fake news and conspiracy theories. In India, the platform has over 200 million active users, making it the biggest market for the company.
"We are trying to be very clear going into the election that there is abuse on WhatsApp. We are working very hard to identify it and prevent it as soon as possible," Woog said.
Amit Malviya, head of IT for BJP, told Reuters he hasn't met with WhatsApp representatives and refrained himself from commenting on the matter. Congress' social media head, Divya Spandana, on the other hand, claimed that the party has nothing to do with the abuse of WhatsApp.
The popular messaging platform has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Last year after false messages circulated on WhatsApp went viral they sparked a number of mob lynchings.
Previously, the Indian government proposed new amendments under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act to prevent people from sharing pornographic videos of minors circulating on WhatsApp.