WhatsApp admin by ‘default’, 21-year old languishing in jail for five months

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New Delhi | Published: July 23, 2018 4:38:08 PM

A man is languishing in jail for the last five months for being an admin of a group that posted controversial content.

 whatsapp, whatsapp company, facebook, madhya pradesh, whatsapp administrator, whatsapp adminThe Facebook-controlled company has been under fire from the Centre on fake news

A 21-year-old man is languishing in jail in Madhya Pradesh’s Rajgarh district for the last five months for being an admin of a group that posted controversial content. The man, named Junaid Khan, was arrested in February this year. The 21-year old has been booked under the IT Act and IPC Section 124 A (sedition). Rejecting the allegations, his family said that Junaid was paying the price for being the “default admin” of the group. They also alleged that Irfan, the actual admin, had left the group after posting the objectionable content.

Speaking about the incident, Farukh Khan said his cousin Junaid was a member of the WhatsApp group, but not the admin. He was in Ratlam at the time of the incident. It was during this time that admin had left the group and Junaid then became the admin by default and was not the admin when the controversial post was originally shared.

In the meantime, the police has said that the family needs to prove Junaid’s innocence and added that the challan was filed as per evidences available. They also said that the family of the accused did not say earlier that Junaid had become an admin by default. If the family has any proof, they must produce that in the court, they further said.

Last month, the District Magistrate of Kishtwar district in Jammu and Kashmir, Angrez Singh Rana, asked all WhatsApp group admins operating the district to seek registration with his office within 10 days. He had also warned that admins who fail to do so will have to face action under the Information Technology Act, Ranbir Penal Code, the cybercrime law, any other law in force at the time of the violation, plus the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Meanwhile, the government once again sent a notice to social media group WhatsApp urging it to introduce effective solutions to control the menace of fake news beyond just labelling forwards. The government also warned the company that mediums used for the spread of rumours could be treated as ‘abettors’ and may face legal actions if they remain “mute spectators”.

The Facebook-controlled company has been under fire from the Centre on fake news and false information being circulated on its messaging platform. A number of such messages led to mob-fury, resulting in numerous incidents of lynching in the country.

“When rumours and fake news get propagated by mischief mongers, the medium used for such propagation cannot evade responsibility and accountability. If they remain, mute spectators, they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action,” the IT Ministry said in a statement earlier this month.

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