War on fakes: Govt may verify WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook accounts using mobile numbers
The ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) is exploring the option of verifying users’ profile on social media platforms such as Facebook,
WhatsApp and Twitter through their mobile numbers, which it feels could help check fake accounts that indulge in anti-social activities like spreading dubious information and propaganda.
MeitY is of the view that individual online account of users of social media platforms should be verified and fake ones weeded out. However, privacy of the user needs to be protected at all costs, a government official said. “Verification or authentication through phone number is a very good option. The ministry is considering it and has sought views from stakeholders on the same,” he added.
Confirming the development, a senior government official said many social media platforms such as Facebook and Google already use a two factor authentication process through which the user can add an extra layer of security to his/her account. This also helps in protecting the account from unauthorised intrusion.
Twitter, Instagram and Facebook already have profile verifications, where the user’s name is verified and is indicated by a blue tick. But only few users have used it.
The government wants to explore whether a similar exercise can be launched for all accounts on social media, considering it will be a humongous exercise as social media users in India are in range of 350 million and counting, explained another official.
This issue was also discussed during MeitY officials meeting with the parliamentary standing committee on IT earlier this year. The panel has already met officials from Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter over authenticity of information on these platforms during elections.