SC sends notice to Twitter, Centre on plea to regulate hate content

The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the Central Government and Twitter on a plea filed BJP leader Vinit Goenka seeking to constitute a mechanism to check advertisements and paid content on Twitter that may be hateful, inciting, or seditious.

A bench led by CJI SA Bobde while issuing the notice tagged the petition with a similar plea pending disposal before it.

The plea alleged that 10% of the 35 million Indian Twitter handles as well as 10% of the 350 million Indian Facebook accounts are duplicate, bogus, or fake.

“These fake Twitter handles and Facebook accounts use real photos of constitutional authorities and eminent citizens. Therefore, the common man relies upon the messages published from these Twitter handles and Facebook accounts”, the plea stated.

It asserted that fake news on social media is the root cause of many riots including the recent riots in Delhi and that fake accounts are used to “propagate casteism, communalism, regionalism, linguism, radicalism, and separatism, which endanger fraternity, unity and regional integration”.

The plea also sought directions to the government to enact a law so that social media platform, Twitter can be prosecuted for their alleged “anti-India Tweets”.

Top Court’s notice to Twitter and the Centre came amid an ongoing tussle between the social media giant and the Indian government regarding the former’s refusal to comply fully with the government’s request to take down certain handles with alleged links to Pakistan and the Khalistani separatist movement.

While Twitter did eventually acquiesce to the government’s demands, the Centre expressed displeasure that the tech company “unwillingly and grudgingly” did as they were told. Since then, following a meeting between Twitter executives and officials from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Twitter affirmed its commitment to following India’s rules and laws and have requested better engagement between the Government of India and Twitter’s global team.

(Siddharth Ganguly is a final year journalism student from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune.)

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