The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Central government and Twitter on a petition filed by BJP leader Vinit Goenka, seeking a direction to devise a mechanism to check fake news and instigative messages being circulated on social media platforms, specially Twitter, according to reports.
In May last year, BJP leader Vinit Goenka had filed the petition to create a mechanism to review Twitter content and hateful advertisements. It also urged to curb fake news revolving around hundreds of fake accounts on Twitter inciting hate propaganda in the nation
The plea filed through Dubey said, “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.”
The PIL said that 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 said.
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.
The plea 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..
It also pointed out that the Ministry of Home Affairs has banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) under the Unlawful Activities and Prevention Act on July 10, 2019, yet it 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.
In the middle of a huge row with Twitter over the blocking of a number of tweets and accounts, the Centre has prepared draft rules to regulate social media, streaming and OTT (Over The Top) platforms, and news-related sites.
The rules revolve around a self-regulatory mechanism that will include a code of ethics and regular compliance reports.
According to reports, the rules mention the need for a chief compliance officer who will respond on a 24×7 basis to any complaint from law enforcement. There will also be a portal dedicated to grievance redressal and an oversight mechanism.
The Centre will “coordinate adherence to code of ethics by publishers and self-regulating bodies” and develop the oversight mechanism.
The draft rules don’t mention any punishment, however, it states that the sites will have 36 hours to remove flagged content.
A secretary-rank officer will have the powers to take action in case of an emergency and place it before the committee within 48 hours, the report stated.
The Central government on Thursday warned social media platforms of strict action for failure to crack down on inflammatory content, saying they have to fully comply with the country’s law.