WhatsApp or Facebook group admin in India have to careful, as if they will be found sharing or letting a factually incorrect, a rumor or a misleading piece of information slip past on any of their groups, they will be answerable for jail term. According to a combined order issued by Varanasi district magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra and the city's police chief Nitin Tiwari, an FIR (first investigation report) can be filed against a group administrator for sharing or disregarding unpleasant posts through the abovementioned instant messaging/social media platforms.
"There are several groups on social media which are named on news groups and also groups with other names which are propagating news and information which is not authentic. These are being forwarded without cross-checking," the joint order stated.
The order also affirmed that the social media group administrators should be ready to bear the accountability and ownership of the groups. The administrator should embrace only those members who are personally known to him or her. If any declaration is made by a group member which is fake, can cause religious disharmony, or rumour, the group admin must deny it on the group and remove the member from the group.
"In the event of inaction from the group admin, he or she will be considered guilty and action will be taken against the group admin," the order stated. Such post should also be accounted to the nearby police station so that action can be taken next to the member under the law.
In case of breach of these guidelines, a case under cyber crime law, Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code will be filed. The order also made it clear that orders of Supreme Court and various high courts will be measured while beginning the action.
"While freedom of expression on social media is important, it also comes with a responsibility," the order said.