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WhatsApp said Indian Politicians Misusing and Abusing Their Platform

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India’s political parties have abused Facebook’s popular messaging service WhatsApp just before the country’s general election and the company has warned them not to do so, said a senior executive on Wednesday.

WhatsApp has declined to name the parties or give the exact nature of the parties who allegedly misused their platform, but there has been immense concern regarding party workers who have abused the platform with the help of automated tools to perform mass messaging, as well as spread false news to stay away from the voters.

The messaging app has become a key campaign tool which is being used extensively by the workers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress party, who have been accusing each other of propagating fake news whereas they have denied doing any wrongdoings themselves.

Carl Woog, the head of communications for WhatsApp said- “We have seen a number of parties who have attempted to use WhatsApp in ways which it is not intended to be, and our firm’s message to them would be to use our platform in the right way, else it will result in them being banned from using our services.

The next general election will be held by May and the challenges are not unique just for India. There were falsehoods and conspiracy theories even before the October election in Brazil, and this had raised concerns that it had been used to distort the political debate.

Just before the state polls in the western state of Rajasthan in December, BJP and Congress workers showed dozens of WhatsApp groups which had been created and used for campaigning.

Woog said that they had engaged with political parties and explained to them how the company views its platform as a messaging app and not as a “broadcast platform”.

Wog added- “We have been trying to be extremely clear that elections have brought about abuse on WhatsApp. We have been working very hard to identify this issue and prevent it as soon as possible.

Amit Malviya, BJP’s head of information technology told Reuters that he didn’t meet the WhatsApp representatives and declined to comment further on this.

Divya Spandana, Congress’ social media head, said that the party hasn’t and would never abuse WhatsApp.

WhatsApp has taken the centre of attention by being in the controversy in India since last year after false messages were spread on their platform that sparked many mob lynchings.

WhatsApp tried to curb spreading fake news by educating users with the help of roadshow campaigns, print and radio advertising. They also limited the number of people to whom a message can be forwarded to at one time.

On Wednesday, they said that WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion active users all over the world, and they have banned two million accounts every month since they sent bulk or automated messages.

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