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SC issues notice to Twitter, Centre in PIL seeking mechanism to check fake news

The Supreme Court's notice comes amid a row between the government and Twitter over blocking of accounts allegedly spreading misinformation and inflammatory messages related to the ongoing farmers protest.

February 12, 2021 / 01:01 PM IST
Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court on February 12 issued a notice to Twitter and the Centre, in a petition to check fake news and incendiary messages on social media.

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vinit Goenka in May 2020. It is seeking a direction to the Centre to devise a mechanism to check fake news and instigative messages on social media.

"The said platform (Twitter) is being used to call upon separatist, creating panic in some sections of the society, challenging the unity, integrity, and sovereignty of India", the plea said, as quoted by legal news website LiveLaw.

The PIL alleged that Twitter "knowingly promotes" messages that are against the law of the land.

"Twitter and social media companies are profit making companies and expecting them to have safeguards for making social media safe and secure is important. The logic and algorithms that twitter use should be shared and vetted by Indian government authorities or competent authority for screening anti India tweets," the plea said.

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A Supreme Court bench headed by the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde directed that the matter be tagged with similar pending petitions seeking social media regulation.

The top court's notice comes amid a row between the Indian government and Twitter over blocking of accounts allegedly spreading misinformation and inflammatory messages related to the ongoing farmers protest.

In a blog post, Twitter said it had restored some of the content after blocking it temporarily.

Union Minister for electronics and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said in Parliament that social media companies must comply with Indian law.

"Today, from here in Parliament, I politely remind the companies, whether it is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or WhatsApp or anyone, they are free to work in India, do business, but they need to respect the Indian Constitution, they need to respect the Indian law," Prasad said in the Rajya Sabha on February 11.
first published: Feb 12, 2021 12:28 pm

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