Facebook Inc.-owned messaging App WhatsApp on said it has appointed Abhijit Bose as head of WhatsApp India, the local entity that is expected to begin operations next year amid calls to check the spread of fake messages. Bose, who was the co-founder and chief executive officer of enterprise payments solutions firm Ezetap, will be based in Gurugram, and join the messaging app early next year.
The move marks the first step by WhatsApp towards meeting the union government’s demand to curb the spread of fake news on the platform.
It comes less than a month after a meeting between information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Chris Daniels, vice-president of WhatsApp. Daniels had told Prasad in the meeting that WhatsApp has incorporated a local unit in India whose operations would begin soon.
This is crucial as the government and the messaging app are trying to find common ground to ensure traceability of fake messages. Rumours circulated on social media apps have led to more than a dozen killings across India this year in mob lynching’s.
Prasad, in an earlier meeting with Daniels, had requested him to devise ways to trace the origins of fake messages, set up a local corporate entity and appoint a grievance officer to address complaints to curb the spread of rumours.
“WhatsApp is deeply committed to India and we are excited to keep building products that help people connect and support India’s fast-growing digital economy. As a successful entrepreneur himself, Abhijit knows what it takes to build meaningful partnerships that can serve businesses across India,” Matt Idema, chief operating officer of WhatsApp, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Bose and his team will focus on helping businesses, both large and small, connect with their customers, the statement added.
“WhatsApp is special and can be a major partner for financial inclusion and economic growth in India. It’s not only how so many families stay in touch, but increasingly it’s how businesses are engaging with their customers. WhatsApp can positively impact the lives of hundreds of millions of Indians, allowing them to actively engage and benefit from the new digital economy,” said Bose.
In August, the messaging service had appointed a grievance officer for India, Komal Lahiri, who is based in the US. Prasad had suggested that the grievance officer should be located in India.