BENGALURU: Administrators of several WhatsApp groups across the state turned on ‘admin only’ mode on Saturday as a precautionary measure to prevent circulation of objectionable or provocative messages in view of the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya dispute. With this, only group administrators could send messages. This voluntary initiative by the admins restrained users from posting objectionable content that could have caused communal disharmony and disturbed the law and order situation.
Well before the landmark judgment, messages were doing the rounds on several WhatsApp groups, requesting users not to post any hate message or rumours. Vikram Iyengar, a social activist, who is admin for at least eight WhatsApp groups, said he turned on the ‘admin only’ mode in all his groups to avoid circulation of hate messages ahead of the judgment. “I changed the settings on Friday night itself. My groups have users cutting across religions and there was a chance of group members posting celebratory messages soon after the judgment, which could have hurt the sentiments of many. So, I turned the admin only mode on,” he said.
K Bhagyalakshmi, a wildlife conservationist who is also an admin for various WhatsApp groups related to wildlife, also changed the setting. “Though our WhatsApp group focusses and shares messages on wildlife, there are chances of people utilising the platform to share objectionable content or forward hate speech. To prevent circulation of such messages, I changed the settings. I saw a similar trend on various other WhatsApp groups of which I am a member,” she said.
Calling it a thoughtful exercise, Mohammed Mustafa, a resident of Mysuru, said, “It is extremely important as an individual to understand our responsibilities in this delicate era of social media. A small provocative message circulated on WhatsApp can cause a dreadful impact on the minds of people. WhatsApp group administrators have done a brilliant job by restricting access at this critical time.”
Netizens divided in opinion
Despite curbs on social media to prevent flare-ups, netizens did not hesitate in expressing their views on the Ayodhya verdict on Saturday. It was a mixed reaction. While a majority of the people welcomed the ruling, others said ‘it was unfair to different faith’. “It is a welcome decision in Ayodhya that the Supreme Court has made. A nice punchline- ‘Neither we win nor you lose. Justice is for all’...,” posted one Swastik Sarangi. “This verdict shouldn’t be seen as a win or a loss for anybody. Be it ...bhakti or ...bhakti, it is imperative that we strengthen the spirit of Rashtra Bhakti. May peace and harmony prevail! [sic]” said another netizen Abhishek Rajput.(Preeja Prasad)