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What to do if your WhatsApp Group receives objectionable content?

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The recent case of 21-year-old Junaid Khan, who has been in jail since the past five months for the crime of being the default admin of a WhatsApp group where some “objectionable” content was shared, has raised a few pertinent questions and concerns. And the two most crucial ones are: What can be categorized as objectionable content? What do we do in case we are a part of a group that receives any kind of objectionable content?

What can be categorized as objectionable content?

To answer the first part in layman’s terms, anything that your gut instinct tells you could hurt someone, anything that could fuel any sort of violent behaviour or something which may not be true, can be classified as objectionable content.

If you go through WhatsApp’s FAQ, inappropriate content is defined as anything from a message, media or profile photo, “that is illegal, obscene, defamatory, threatening, intimidating, harassing, hateful, racially, or ethnically offensive, or instigates or encourages conduct that would be illegal.”

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

What do I do when objectionable content appears in a group that I am a part of?

It is unfortunate that the situation of fake news has gotten so out of hand that dealing with misinformation on the platform is pretty much a life skill now. And to best understand how you should react when a group you are a part of receives disturbing content or anything that you feel is objectionable, look at this as a fire drill!

The first thing you need to do is point out that there is a fire and then see if it can be contained.

In case of the WhatsApp group, you flag such messages (regardless of you being the group admin or just a member), have the content deleted and warn the members of the group that such content must not be shared. You might get kicked out of the group for doing that, but hey, you’ve done your part.

If the fire isn’t contained with that, you need to get out of there.

If your WhatsApp group is being spammed with content that you are uncomfortable with, exit the group.

Report the fire 

You can’t just leave that place burning once you are out, right? Therefore, once you exit the group before you delete the chat permanently and report it to WhatsApp. If it is serious enough, you could also call the national emergency number, which is 121, or the police helpline number, which is 100, or you could report it to the cyber cell.

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