With the Lok Sabha election dates being announced, WhatsApp India head Abhijit Bose on Wednesday said the company which has taken several measures to limit the spread of misinformation and fake news on its platform in India is set to take more action to fully secure its platform.
In his first statement after taking over as head of India operations of the Facebook-owned messaging platform early this year, Bose said the company strongly believes that private messaging is fundamental to safety.
“We’re pleased that the recent changes we’ve made to limit viral content and educate users is having an impact. This work is never done — there is more that we can and will do,” noted Bose who is currently hiring the first full country team outside of California which will be based in Gurugram.
“I am going to be listening closely and learning in the months to come, and I look forward to working with stakeholders here in India on our common safety goals,” added Bose.
With over 200 million monthly active users, India is WhatsApp’s biggest market in the world. Globally, the platform has over 1.5 billion users.
Facing flak from the government over dozens of lynching incidents in the country last year which were linked to rumours spread on WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service introduced several new measures, including limiting the number of messages that a user can forward to five and appointing a grievance officer for the country.
The government is also concerned about the spread of fake news and political bias on WhatsApp and other social media platforms as the country faces the seven-phase voting from April 11.
“One of the most exciting features we’re building is WhatsApp Payments. Leveraging services from the ‘India Stack’ such as UPI (Unified Payments Interface), we’re making it possible for people to easily transfer money to each other or their favourite merchants,” informed Bose.
WhatsApp Payments, stuck owing to India’s demand to store data locally, has not gone beyond the beta testing it did with nearly one million users last year.
“When opened up to WhatsApp users across India, Payments will accelerate financial inclusion and remove barriers for people who want to actively participate in the new digital economy,” Bose noted.
A recent WhatsApp research has revealed that 70 per cent of small businesses have built their business on the platform and 77 per cent said they have been able to hire more employees due to growth since joining WhatsApp.
According to Bose, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of home-grown tech companies building innovative solutions to improve financial inclusion, health and education.
“WhatsApp is excited to support these efforts by providing a platform to connect micro-services to people anywhere in the country, helping our start-up ecosystem deliver critical India-first solutions at scale and speed in order to truly move the needle for our country,” he elaborated.
Small business owners, he said, need to solve multiple problems simultaneously to succeed in a highly competitive market.
“I’m excited about what the future holds for India and humbled by the potential WhatsApp has to help hundreds of millions of people and businesses across the country connect and prosper,” said Bose.