The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to Twitter and the Central government on a petition filed by BJP leader Vinit Goenka asking for a mechanism to check fake news and inflammatory messages being spread via Twitter. The SC bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, issued a notice on the petition and directed that the matter be tagged with similar pending petitions seeking social media regulation. The SC heard the plea at a time the Central government has been pressing Twitter to block over 1,000 accounts and posts that it says have been spreading misinformation and provocative content linked to the farmers’ agitation against the three new farm laws.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that the Centre respects social media for empowering common people but action will be taken if it is misused to spread fake news and violence.
While addressing the Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar said “We respect social media a lot, it has empowered common people. Social media has a big role in the Digital India program. However, if social media is misused to spread fake news, violence then action will be taken,”. The apex court has tagged Goenka’s matter with a bunch of similar petitions already pending before it.
Advocate Ashwini Kumar Dubey, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that the PIL seeks a mechanism to screen hateful advertisements and anti-India content on Twitter. Goenka’s petition said that there were hundreds of fake Twitter handles and Facebook accounts in the name of eminent people and dignitaries and he had sought action, but none was taken. Social media accounts were used by political parties to “tarnish the image of opponents”, particularly during elections, and to spread “anti-India and venomous messages” aimed at provoking violence in various parts of the country, the BJP leader had said.”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 stated.