South Asians force Whats App others to enter the stage. If educating the Pakistani voters about the authenticity of the news items likely to appear as posts on Facebook was not enough, prompting FB to add its flyers on the individual pages, whats App too has moved to manage its usage, specifically in India after a prompt forwarding of a media message triggered riots which also caused loss of human life.
Taking stock of the situation the Whats App took an unprecedented step of limiting per day forwarding options for users in India to just five; nothing short of tying of anyone hands. The Whats App justifies that step to ensure that unconfirmed news items in the form of media files may not find its way unrestrained into an audience; a situation which can enflame passions and create possible law and order situation.
Here it is pertinent to note that the software group has also sent its team to India to discuss with the government as well as the market stakeholders how such instances can be stopped to ensure there is no loss of life.
Whats App officials argued that in societies like India which as per its server records and logs has the highest rate of forwarding the messages especially in the form of media files; any message which contains news item which has not been confirmed by any mainstream news agency or group; yet it spreads amongst a group of like minded individuals, can create situations where reactions cannot be controlled neither on ground; by the Indian authorities, whether dealing in a law and order situation or by the cyberspace regulators; not even by the Whats App people at their respective servers.
Towards that end it is imperative for the Indians as well as the Whats App people to sit together, the Whats App group people feel. They also pointed out that apart from the policy, which is Indian specific that there is a limit over each user to the number of forwarded messages; another feature has been lately introduced in the case of India that if the message has not be scribbled by the user; and he has actually just forwarded that piece of information, the message when forwarded and delivered to the recipient or number of recipients that the said message has not originated at the end of the sender, rather has been only forwarded. That feature infact induced the recipients to take stock of the information first and make any reaction later.
The experience though specifically Indian has a number of lessons for the Pakistani audiences. As we all know that Facebook is particularly concerned about how its server is being used by the Pakistani audiences as it can potentially carry a fake news item; asking people to authenticate and be careful accepting anything on its face value; Whats App use as a most popular and used software in Pakistan also raises similar questions at the time when cross rivalry political tempers are high and can spill over to create violence.
Its high time that the Pakistani cyberspace regulators instead of waiting for anything to happen; should take the proactive path to take counter measures against any misuse of the information passage which can prove to be dangerous. Given the human development indicators of Pakistan; the challenges can be even more tricky to handle.