Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp today introduced a new privacy setting, which now lets users decide if they want to get added in a group or not. The move comes just a few days ahead of general elections in India, as social media platforms play a significant role in running political ads and campaigns to reach out to the masses.
‘WhatsApp groups continue to connect family, friends, co-workers, classmates and more. As people turn to groups for important conversations, users have asked for more control over their experience,’ WhatsApp said.
Earlier, WhatsApp users could be added to a group without their consent. Now, WhatsApp allows users a choice to select from ‘nobody,’ ‘my contacts,’ or ‘everyone’ in group settings.
If a user selects ‘nobody,’ the app will offer the user a choice to approve or decline an invite to join a group. Choosing ‘my contacts’ option will allow users to be added in a group only by people in their contact list. The individual inviting you to a group will now be first prompted to send a private invite through an individual chat. The user will have three days to give their consent, post that the invitation expires.
The new group privacy settings have already started rolling out to select users starting today and will soon be rolled out globally.
WhatsApp, which now has over 200 million users in India, has been facing intense criticism from the Indian government over the spread of fake news. Under pressure to stop rumours and fake news, last year, WhatsApp had limited the number of times one can forward a message to five. It has also been putting out advertisements in newspapers and running television and radio campaigns offering tips to users on how to spot misinformation.