SC notice to Centre, Twitter on PIL seeking mechanism to check hate speech

The development comes at a time when Centre has asked Twitter to block hundreds of handles for allegedly spreading fake news

SC notice to Centre, Twitter on PIL seeking mechanism to check hate speech

Photo for representation purposes.

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 12

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the Centre and Twitter India on a PIL seeking a mechanism to regulate content spreading hatred through fake news and messages through bogus accounts.

Opinion
Blocking dissent may prove counterproductive

The showdown between Twitter and the Indian govt is another marker of how tough New Delhi can get. But as long as India keeps its Net space open, trying to block contrarian opinion and protest on these platforms is a bit like standing with an umbrella to avoid a tsunami. It’s a battle the govt cannot win, short of banning the site altogether. Twitter is an American company and threatening its employees has attracted criticism in Western media. more...

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asked the Centre and Twitter Communication India Pvt Ltd to respond to the PIL filed by Vinit Goenka – BJP’s IT and Social Media Cell In-charge, who alleged there were hundreds of fake Twitter handles and bogus Facebook accounts in the name of eminent people and high dignitaries. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs had banned Sikhs for Justice under the Unlawful Activities and Prevention Act on July 10, 2019, yet it continued to have an active presence on Twitter and allegedly espoused hatred, terrorism and criminal acts, he submitted.

Goenka sought directions to make a law as per which action can be initiated against Twitter and their representatives in India for wilfully abetting and promoting anti-India tweets.

The Bench clubbed the petition with other similar petitions pending in the top court.

The development comes at a time when the Centre has asked Twitter to block hundreds of handles for allegedly spreading fake news.

On behalf of the petitioner, advocate Ashwini Dubey submitted that directions were needed to set up a mechanism to regulate hateful content on the social networks. 

Alleging that Twitter was being used to call upon separatist, creating panic in some sections of the society, challenging the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India”, Goenka said the microblogging site “knowingly promotes” messages which 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 uses should be shared and vetted by Indian government authorities or competent authority for screening anti India tweets”, the petitioner demanded.

“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 petition read.

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 at present the 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 PIL stated.

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