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IT Minister pulls up WhatsApp over incorrect map of India shown in tweeted video; platform deletes post, apologises


NEW DELHI: IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Saturday pulled up WhatsApp for tweeting a video that depicted an incorrect map of India and asked it to fix the error immediately, following which the messaging platform deleted the tweet and apologised.

As the minister called out WhatsApp over the distortions in the map of the country, he also warned that “all platforms that do business in India and/or want to continue to do business in India, must use correct maps”.

“Dear @WhatsApp – Request that you pls fix the India map error asap”,” Chandrasekhar tweeted after the Meta-owned messaging platform put out a New Year-related tweet showing a wrong map of India.

The video post by WhatsApp about a New Year eve livestream depicted the globe that showed an incorrect map of India with regard to Jammu and Kashmir.

WhatsApp deleted the tweet after it was flagged by the minister.

“Thank you Minister for pointing out the unintended error; we have promptly removed the stream, apologies. We will be mindful in the future,” WhatsApp tweeted.

Chandrasekhar had, earlier this week, also cautioned video calling company Zoom’s founder and chief executive officer Eric Yuan over an incorrect map of India.

“Your may want to make sure you use correct maps of the countries you do/ want to do business in,” the minister had tweeted on December 28. Yuan had later deleted the tweet in question.

In June 2021, micro-blogging platform Twitter itself had come under heavy criticism for displaying a distorted map of India. Twitter removed the wrong map after it faced online backlash.

Big social media platforms have drawn flak in the past over hate speech, misinformation and fake news circulating on their platforms.

The government, last year, introduced stringent rules for social media platforms to make them more accountable to end-users in one of the world’s largest internet markets. The 2021 rules require social media companies to take down contentious content quicker, appoint grievance redressal officers and assist in investigations.

The IT rules were further tightened in October 2022 to pave the way for formation of Centre-appointed panels to settle often-ignored user grievances against the way social media platforms addressed their complaints regarding content and other matters.

Put simply, these appellate panels will be able to review content moderation decisions by social media companies like Meta and Twitter, and can overrule decisions of the Big Tech firms on takedown or blocking requests. The government had said the move was necessitated due to the “casual” and “tokenism” approach of digital platforms towards user complaints.

Notably, the newly-amended IT rules also impose a legal obligation on social media companies to take all efforts to prevent barred content and misinformation, and the government has made it clear that platforms such as Twitter and Facebook operating in India will have to abide by local laws and constitutional rights of Indian users. (PTI)

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