Updated: February 12, 2021 1:15:12 pm
The Supreme Court Friday issued a notice to Centre and Twitter India and sought responses from them on a petition seeking a mechanism to check Twitter content and advertisements spreading hatred through fake news and instigative messages through bogus accounts.
The PIL, file by BJP leader Vinit Goenka, had said there are hundreds of fake Twitter handles and bogus Facebook accounts in the name of eminent people and high dignitaries. Advocate Ashwini Dubey, appearing for Goenka, said directions are needed for establishing a mechanism to regulate hateful content on the social networking site.
A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde, which also included justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said that it is issuing notice in the matter and tagging the plea with other pending matters.
“These fake Twitter handles and Facebook accounts use real photo of constitutional authorities and eminent citizens. Therefore, common man relies upon the messages published from these Twitter handles and Facebook accounts. Fake news is the root cause of many riots, including the one in Delhi earlier this year, and bogus accounts are used to promote casteism and communalism which endangers fraternity and unity of the country. It is submitted that presently total number of Twitter handles in India is around 35 million and total number of Facebook accounts is 350 million and experts says that around 10 per cent Twitter handles (3.5 million) and 10 per cent Facebook accounts (35 million) are duplicate/bogus/fake,” the plea had stated.
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Goenka’s petition also said that political parties use fake social media accounts for self-promotion and image building and to tarnish the image of opponents and contesting candidates, especially during the elections, the plea submitted.
It has also sought directions to make a law as per which an action can be initiated against Twitter and their representatives in India for willfully abetting and promoting anti India tweets and penalize them.
The petition further said that a representation to the authority concerned to act in accordance with the law of the country against social media giant Twitter was filed but no action has been taken so far by authorities concerned.
Pointing out that the Ministry of Home Affairs has banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) under the Unlawful Activities and Prevention Act on July 10, 2019, Goenka’s plea said it still continues to have an active presence on Twitter and allegedly espouses hatred, terrorism and sedition, criminal acts.
“The logic and algorithms that Twitter uses should be shared and vetted by Indian government authorities or competent authority for screening anti-India tweets… KYC of all social media handles in India must be conducted for making social media safe and accountable and traceable,” the plea said.
Meanile, amid the face-off between the government and microblogging platform Twitter, Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad Thursday accused social media platforms of “double standards” in their approach to recent events at the US Capitol Hill and the Red Fort on Republic Day.
Also, Twitter has extended a commitment to “restructure” its India team and assign more senior executives to its local offices so that it can better handle legal compliance-related issues, senior government officials told The Indian Express.
Executives from Twitter agreed to some structural changes at a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Wednesday, sources said. The ministry pushed for these changes as part of its effort to “better manage communications” between the Government of India and the global team of Twitter.
(With inputs from PTI)
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