08:22 GMT31 March 2020
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    The Facebook-owned messaging application, which has more than 200 million users in India, has warned that those found abusing the platform by sending automated or bulk messages that are politically motivated will be banned by the platform.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): Popular messaging service WhatsApp has asked Indian politicians to refrain from using the platform as a means to spread information that is meant to distort the political debate ahead of the country's general elections due in May this year.

    "We have seen a number of parties attempt to use WhatsApp in ways that it was not intended, and our firm message to them is that using it in that way will result in bans of our service", Carl Woog, head of communications for WhatsApp, told reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday.

    Though the WhatsApp official did not pinpoint any particular political party, the general concern indicated that it is mainly wary of the activities of large parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party, currently in power, and the main opposition Congress Party that have set up large-scale IT cells for spreading politically motivated news.

    READ MORE: 'Facebook Has Become Very Politicised' – Online Privacy Advocate

    These parties continue to blame each other for propagating fake news, while denying they do so themselves.

    For the last few months, WhatsApp has been trying to curb the spreading of fake news after false messages spread on its platform sparked a number of mob lynching across India. It has already implemented safeguards, including limiting of forwards to five at a time. It has also launched road shows, as well as print and radio advertising. It also limited the number of people someone can forward a message to at a time.

    READ MORE: Facebook Unveils Tools to Fight Foreign Meddling in Run-Up to 2019 EU Elections

    "We are engaged with political parties to express our firm view that we are not a broadcast platform", Carl Woog added. WhatsApp is releasing a white paper to "ensure there is a clear understanding of how our systems work".


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