WhatsApp Launches 'Safety In India' Resource Hub To Create Awareness On Online Safety

The resource hub also highlights India-specific processes that help prevent the spread of misinformation and any form of abuse on the platform

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Meta-owned WhatsApp today launched a dedicated "Safety in India' resource hub highlighting a host of safety measures and processes on WhatsApp that help people stay safe, smart and secure - online. The launch of the resource hub comes after WhatsApp's week-long campaign, #TakeCharge to promote safe use of the internet.

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The resource hub aims to explore several important topics around online safety, privacy and security, debunks common myths, in addition to creating awareness on how users can safeguard themselves from potential cyber scams in today's digitally connected world.

"Safety of our users is at the core of everything we do at WhatsApp and launching a dedicated "Safety in India' resource hub is a way of reiterating our commitment to educating and empowering users to take control of their online safety. Over the years we have made significant product changes to help enhance user security and privacy. Besides continuous product innovations, we have also consistently invested in state-of-the-art technology, artificial intelligence, data scientists, experts, and in processes, to support user safety. We hope this resource will equip users with the information they need to safeguard their privacy and navigate the internet safely," said Abhijit Bose, Head of India, WhatsApp, in a statement.

Through the hub, WhatsApp aims to build awareness about the various safety measures and in-built product features that empower users to take control of their safety while using the service. The resource hub also highlights advanced technology that WhatsApp deploys along with India-specific processes that help prevent the spread of misinformation and any form of abuse on the platform, the company said.

The Privacy Debate

Last year, WhatsApp was in deep trouble after it had announced a new privacy policy and terms of service on January 6, which resulted in a nationwide backlash. The messaging platform, which has more than 400 million users in India, had said that it would share more user data with its parent company Facebook.

This, it said, involved information related to business transactions done on the app, besides device-level data, IP address and other details on how users interacted with all Facebook group companies, including Instagram. While, the move was apparently a step towards the company's e-commerce play and super-app goal, many users raised concerns and many others moved to other messaging platforms like Telegram, Signal, among others. Due to this backlash, the policy which was supposed to come into play from February 8, 2021, was delayed till May 15, 2021.

Even after it went live on May 15, 2021, according to media reports, the Indian government reportedly asked WhatsApp to withdraw its controversial new privacy policy. However, the instant messaging giant claimed in a statement on May 19, 2021, that a majority of its users had already accepted the company's new privacy policy.

Later by May end, according to news reports, the messaging platform has told the government that it would not limit the functionality for users not agreeing to its new privacy policy. However, it would continue to remind users about the update and maintain the status quo until the personal data protection law kicks in.

For the last 6 to 7 months, WhatsApp has been actively notifying the grievances received from users in India through its grievance mechanisms. According to its seventh monthly compliance report, which was made mandatory under the New IT Rules, 2021, WhatsApp banned 2,079,000 accounts from December 1 to 31, 2021. It also received 528 grievances in December, of which 303 were ban appeals. The messaging service giant had said that one of the major reasons for account bans was the "unauthorized' use of bulk messaging.

Further, many social media giants including Twitter, WhatsApp and others also appointed grievance redressal officers and announced that a grievance redressal system was in place in compliance with the new Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules (IT Rules) which came into force on May 26th, 2021.