It’s getting tougher for WhatsApp admins

Any post that could promote enmity in any WhatsApp group can mean jail for the admin of the group.

By Author  |  Published: 28th Apr 2017  11:51 pm

Hyderabad: Being the administrator, or admin in popular parlance of a WhatsApp group has never been easy. And now, the Cyber Crime police say life is just going to get tough for admins out there.

One black sheep in the herd could land the admin behind bars, say cops, pointing out that some contentious posts circulated on WhatsApp have prompted the Cyber Crime to be extra vigilant and to initiate action against such posts.

From now on, any post that could promote enmity on grounds of religion, nationality, race, language and so on in any WhatsApp group can mean jail for the admin of the group. In other words, no anti-national, communal or racist posts are to be allowed in such groups.

It is up to the admin to exercise caution, rein in troublesome members and report them to the police in case of mischief. Members trying to malign anyone else, within or outside the group, too can invite trouble.

“Social media networking sites have their own boundaries and the chance for foolproof investigation is tough. But instant messaging applications present a different scenario because recovering evidence is easier,” said U Ram Mohan, SP, Cybercrime, indicating that it would not be easy for troublemakers to escape.

Pointing out that it was the admin’s responsibility to ensure that no content was posted targeting any caste, religion or creed, Ram Mohan said circulating such messages was a cognizable offence and if the admin fails in taking preventive measures, he or she could be in trouble.
“Serious action will be initiated against the group’s admin. He/she will be taken into custody under relevant sections of Section 153 A of the Indian Penal Code,” he said.

Additional Commissioner (Crimes & SIT) Swathi Lakra said WhatsApp had become a means for spreading rumours and objectionable content, with the outcomes often leading to tense situations. There was also a need to avoid taking pictures of others at parties or public places without their permission.

“Sharing of such pictures on social media/WhatsApp without prior consent of such individuals is a crime under the IT Act and IPC,” she said, adding that uploading others’ photos, like that of celebrities as profile pictures too should be avoided.