The move assumes significance as social media platforms are expected to play a major role in 2019 polls.
NEW DELHI: WhatsApp announced on Wednesday that it is introducing a new privacy setting to help users decide who can add them to groups. Previously, WhatsApp users could be added to groups without their consent.
The Indian government had been asking WhatsApp to ensure user consent before being added to WhatsApp groups.
“WhatsApp groups continue to connect family, friends, coworkers, classmates and more. As people turn to groups for important conversations, users have asked for more control over their experience,” the Facebook-owned company said in a statement.
To enable it, users need to go to settings in their app, then tap Account > Privacy > Groups and select one of three options: “Nobody,” “My Contacts,” or “Everyone.” “Nobody” means users will have to approve joining every group to which they’re invited, and “My Contacts” means only users people have in their address book can add them to groups.
In those cases, the person inviting users to a group will be prompted to send a private invite through an individual chat, giving them the choice of joining the group. Users will have three days to accept the invite before it expires.
“With these new features, users will have more control over the group messages they receive,” WhatsApp said.
The move assumes significance, especially ahead of elections in the country, as social media platforms are expected to play a major role in political campaigns to reach out to citizens in large numbers.
Under pressure to stop rumours and fake news, WhatsApp had last year restricted forwarding messages to five chats at once. So far, WhatsApp has resisted the government’s demand for identifying message originators, arguing that such a move would undermine the end-to-end encryption and the private nature of the platform, creating potential for serious misuse.