Predicaments like the one the world is currently facing, give rise to an array of fake news and misinformation, which is used by multiple groups to promote their own interests. Such information is commonly shared and forwarded however it does have serious consequences and largely influences public sentiment.
With a sudden surge in the magnitude of sources that are now being used for procuring information, it is becoming all the more difficult to look for authentic and reliable news. During times of crisis, it is often seen that social media platforms are exploited by users to propagate fake news and misinformation. These platforms are also immensely used by people to promote their communal and political interests. While it is a difficult task to identify such incorrect data, it is also a herculean task to regulate its promulgation. This increases the responsibility on users and admins to ensure that the information being circulated in their social media sphere is authentic and is in no way part of this propaganda.
The Cyber Cell of Maharashtra Police has released an advisory to be followed by WhatsApp users and Admins during the Covid-19 Pandemic to regulate the spread of fake news and misinformation that might have the repercussion of inciting panic and hate among classes of the population. While the advisory in itself, is not binding in nature, it does list down several statutory offences one might be liable under if caught spreading misinformation, promoting enmity between groups, making assertions prejudicial to national integration and so on.
The guidelines laid down in the advisory are simply a set of precautions that can be followed in an age where social media is being so actively and vastly used. An adherence to these guidelines will also save users and admins from any kind of statutory liability that they might otherwise be legally responsible for.