FACT CHECK: No Govt Order of Action on WhatsApp Admins and Members

The country is passing through 21 days nationwide lockdown period, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called barring essential services on 24th March 2020, as a preventive measure to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in India. However, misinformation related to the Pandemic COVID-19 have become much rampant these days.

A misleading message has been recently floated and is widely circulated in social media platforms more particularly on WhatsApp, which calls for all the WhatsApp groups to close their groups for 2 days, otherwise, the government is going to take action against admins and group members. Another message says that the Government of India is monitoring all forms of communications and warns people not to forward messages related to politics or religion.

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The WhatsApp message reads, “Group admin is requested to close group for 2days as police can take action against admin & group members vide section 68, 140 & 188 if anyone even by mistake post joke on corona. Everyone could be in trouble. Hence I draw the attention of group admin to take necessary steps.

Dear All,
Mandate for All: Tonight  12 ( midnight) onwards Disaster Management Act has been implemented across the country. According to this update, apart from the Govt department, no other citizen is allowed to post any update or share any forward related to Coronavirus and it being punishable offence. 
Group Admins are requested to post the above update and inform the groups
“.

News Sense Fact Check Team found this information is FAKE, as the government has clarified on 6th April 2020, through PIB (Press Information Bureau) of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India that the message is fake. As it says, “Fake message is going around on social media claiming that legal action would be taken against admin and group members who post jokes on #Coronavirus, hence group admin should close the group for 2 days. This is #Fake! No such order has been issued by the Government

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The other message which is circulated in Hindi, English and other regional languages reads, “From tomorrow onwards there are new communication regulations. All calls are recorded. All phone call recordings saved. WhatsApp is monitored. Twitter is monitored. Facebook is monitored All social media and forums are monitored. Inform those who do not know. Your devices are connected to ministry systems. Take care not to send unnecessary messages. Inform your children, Relatives and friends about this to take care. Don’t forward any posts or videos etc., you receive regarding politics/present situation about Government/PM etc.​​ Police have put out a notification termed ..Cyber Crime … and action will be taken…just don’t delete … Inform your friends & others too. Writing or forwarding any msg on any political & religious debate is an offence now….arrest without warrant… This is very serious, plz let it be known to all our groups and individual members as group admin can b in deep trouble. Take care not to send unnecessary messages. Inform everyone about this to take care. Please share it; it’s very much true. Groups, please be careful.”

On March 24, the Press Information Bureau on March 24 has made it clear that there “Do not fall for such #Whatsapp messages being circulated.No such thing is being done by the Government”.

How it is important for every one of us, not to share or forward any false or misleading information on the social media platforms, as respective governments of the states may take up action against the perpetrators.

Claim: Government Actions Against WhatsApp Admin/Members

Conclusion: No such advisory or order released by Government of India

NB: Don’t share or forward any misleading information on your social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp, by doing so you are also becoming someone, who is creating panic and confusion among the larger mass and this is a punishable offense.

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