WhatsApp’s appointment of a grievance officer for India may only be a 'cosmetic move'

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  • WhatsApp has appointed a new grievance officer for India, Komal Lahiri, the head of handling complaints.
  • While Lahiri will be leading the India complaints operation, she will be based out of the United States.
  • Cybersecurity experts largely view this as a ‘cosmetic move’ that may only have minimal impact on actually addressing the concerns of Indian users and the government.
WhatsApp and India haven’t had the easiest relationship of late, but the social messaging platform did appoint a grievance officer to address the needs of the country. While that’s well and good, that individual still isn’t going to be working out of India. The newly appointed grievance officer but will be based out of the United States instead.

Komal Lahiri will be handling complaints about Whatsapp for and from users, law enforcement agencies, the government and other institutions, but she won’t be present on ground.

After multiple lynching incidents that were exacerbated by Whatsapp, the Government of India insisted on the Facebook-owned company to take urgent measures against the propagation of fake news and misinformation.

While this may be a step in the right direction, cybersecurity experts largely view this as a cosmetic move where the ground impact will be minimal.

The pressure is on

India is WhatsApp’s largest market accounting for nearly 200 million of its 1.5 billion active users per month. In the past, they’ve taken out full-page ads in newspapers and broadcast awareness messages on the radio, but the Indian government wants them to take more concrete steps to correct the situation.

While the company’s promised to build an India team to be present on location, they seem to be struggling to find people to come on board. In contrast, their parent company has managed to hire a new managing director and vice-president, Ajit Mohan, for Facebook India.

Though WhatsApp is stepping up its efforts with the appointment of Lahiri, it may satiate the things for a while but is far from the kind of permanent solution that is needed.

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