Encrypted Messaging Applications as Non-Traditional Social Media Platforms

This paper seeks to identify possible approaches to mitigate harms arising out of ‘non-traditional’ platforms and make them more legally accountable, and uses WhatsApp as an illustration. In India, 77% of these cases were caused by rumor-mongering on social media. WhatsApp messages contributed to 28% of these cases.

Specifically, the paper makes a two-fold argument to push for greater responsibility from Encrypted Messaging Applications (EMAs) as ‘non-traditional’ platforms. First, EMAs like WhatsApp and Telegram are not purely private channels of messaging since they also facilitate group/public conversations and social networking. Second, the discourse surrounding ‘information fiduciaries’ should be analyzed in the context of EMAs in order to understand its applicability to ‘non-traditional’ platforms. A fiduciary character may be extended to such platforms to enable user-friendly, responsible, and accountable platform design with respect to speech harms.