Social Media

Find ways to block social media apps in case of misuse: Govt to telcos

Reuters NEW DELHI | Updated on August 07, 2018 Published on August 07, 2018

India has asked its telecom operators to find ways of blocking applications such as Facebook and messaging app WhatsApp in the case of misuse, according to a document seen by Reuters.

India has in recent months intensified efforts to crack down on mass message forwards after it found that people were using social media and messaging apps to spread rumours and stoke public anger. WhatsApp in particular has faced the wrath of Indian regulators after false messages circulated on the messaging platform led to a series of lynchings and mob beatings across the country.

The department of telecommunications in July asked Indian telecom service providers, as well as mobile and internet industry bodies, to “explore various possible options” to block such apps. “You are ... requested to explore various possible options and confirm how the Instagram/Facebook/Whatsapp/Telegram and such other mobile apps can be blocked on internet,” according to the government letter dated July 18 and seen by Reuters.

Facebook Inc, which owns both WhatsApp and photo-sharing platform Instagram, declined to comment. Telegram did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A source at India's department of telecommunication said the letter was aimed at finding ways to block such apps during emergency situations. “There is a need for a reasonable good solution to protect national security,” said the official, who declined to be named.

For WhatsApp, India is its biggest market with more than 200 million users and one where it says people forward more messages, photographs and videos than any other country. Following calls from the government to stem the platform's misuse, WhatsApp has moved to deter mass message forwards and launched an advertising campaign to educate consumers.

In July, WhatsApp said message forwards will be limited to five chats at a time, whether among individuals or groups, and said it will remove the quick forward button placed next to media messages. Separately, India's federal police has begun probing Cambridge Analytica's misuse of Facebook user data, which New Delhi suspects included information on Indian users.

Published on August 07, 2018

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.