The Delhi Government is now advertising the recently announced guidelines that target fake news, hate mongering and any inflammatory messages that may be shared as a message on WhatsApp or as social media posts on platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you are now caught forwarding fake news or sharing messages or posts that could incite tensions, violence or are remotely provocative, incendiary or instigative, you could end up in jail for up to 3 years. The Committee on Peace & Harmony of the Delhi Legislative Assembly has also launched a WhatsApp service as well as an email helpline where citizens can report any inflammatory messages that they may have received on WhatsApp, any instant messaging platform or any social media site. The advert also says that if an FIR is filed based on your complaint, then you also get a reward of Rs 10,000.
The WhatsApp number and the email address are being advertised prominently in full page adverts rolled out in the Delhi editions of major newspapers. “If you find anyone sharing communally inflammatory messages or video on WhatsApp or any Social Media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) then immediately send the screenshot or video to us,” says the advert. It was earlier this week that the Committee on Peace & Harmony had launched a campaign against fake news and the recommendations to reward those who report such messages. The committee has already clarified that the reported messages will be forwarded to the Delhi Police after due diligence, for further action.
“We will apprise the people that if anyone shares fake news, hate content or a rumour, which can cause enmity between two communities, then it is a criminal offence which can invite a jail term of three years. We will seek complaints from people through the campaign in radio, newspapers and other media platforms,” Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj had said while speaking with the media.
This move comes immediately after Delhi saw riots last week in the northeastern part of the city in which more than 45 people were killed. It was during this time that fake news was quite rampant on instant messengers and social media platforms—one such example included the much shared Facebook post which incorrectly suggested that Shahdara deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Amit Sharma has succumbed to his injuries.