The instant messaging social media giant, WhatsApp, has recently rolled out a new update to its platform which may have far reaching legal implications for users.

The WhatsApp update for administrators

On 1 September 2022, WhatsApp incorporated a feature that allows group administrators to delete and remove messages shared by members of the same group. The platform further extended the already existing deletion window period from the initial 1 hour to an extensive 48 hours.

This has enabled group administrators to exercise stricter control over postings through the use of the newly provided moderation tools. The purpose of the update is to allow for the removal of any accidental, illegal, illicit, unjust or wrongful content posted to the group.

Update implies a governance responsibility

Social media legal experts argue that this creates a legal obligation on the group administrator as it implies a governance responsibility on the administrator for content published in the group.

Legal provisions regarding the publication of defamatory content on social media have recently become quite stringent, and rightfully so, given the ever-increasing role that apps like WhatsApp play in private and commercial communication.

Parties may liable due to their actions or omissions

While punishment may indeed vary between the publishing party and the admin, both parties may liable due to their actions or omissions. Despite not being the original source of defamatory content, administrators must ensure that no defamatory messages or media have gone unaddressed.

It is important to always be aware of the duties and responsibilities associated with being an administrator on such platforms, as improper conduct, and/or failure to act when required to do so can easily land one in hot water.

Speak to our Litigation and Dispute Resolution experts

Our Litigation and Dispute Resolution team has broad knowledge and experience handling social media related matters. We are always acutely aware of the expense of litigation and where possible, explore alternative methods to achieve cost-effective dispute resolution without compromising on the desired result.

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The articles on these web pages are provided for general information purposes only. Whilst care has been taken to ensure accuracy, the content provided is not intended to stand alone as legal advice. Always consult a suitably qualified attorney on any specific legal problem or matter.