WhatsApp can face legal action in India if it does not take any further steps to handle the spread of false rumors, the government said on Thursday, in new criticism of the platform over a blow of lynchings.
More than 20 people have been killed by bullying over the last two months across the country after being charged with child abduction and other crimes in virus messages circulated on WhatsApp.
Under pressure from authorities to end the spread of "false news", the hugely popular smartphone has introduced new features to help users identify messages that have been forwarded.
However, in a strongly formulated statement released on Thursday, India's information ministry said the measure was insufficient.
"Rampant circulation of irresponsible messages in large volumes on their platform has not been resolved enough by WhatsApp," said it.
"When rumors and fake news are spread by mischief-mongers, the media used for such information can not escape responsibility and responsibility."
"If (WhatsApp) remains dumb watchers, they can be treated as abettors and then meet the appropriate legal action . "
WhatsApp has also purchased full-featured ads in Indian newspapers with tips on detecting incorrect data.
However, the platform has refused to snoop on user content to help the authorities to break the issue with regard to privacy.
In its statement, the Ministry called WhatsApp to enable "traceability" of provocative or inflammatory messages when an official request is made.
India's Supreme Court earlier this week asked the government to adopt a new law to delete what it called "horrendous actions" of lynch and punish criminals.
Lynchings based on misjudgment or malicious information is not a new phenomenon in India. But the spread of smartphones and internet access in the country's poorest and most isolated areas has compounded the problem.
An engineer was killed in a mob attack this week in the southern state of Karnataka, while five people were lynched in neighbor Maharashtra on July 1.
The government had taken WhatsApp to task earlier this month to share "irresponsible and explosive messages" among its 200 million Indian users – the company's largest market.
In response to that criticism, WhatsApp said it was "horrified" by the violence and announced changes as it said would reduce the spread of unwanted messages.
WhatsApp is under pressure from authorities in India to end the spread of "false news"