Government Asks Google and Social Media Platforms to Check the Spread of Rumours Inciting Unrest

By October 25th, 2018 AT 5:08 PM

The Indian Government has asked Google, Twitter, WhatsApp and other social media platforms to take concrete steps to check the spread of rumours and messages inciting unrest, cyber crimes and other activities that could be detrimental to the national security, officials said to PTI on Thursday. Besides, these platforms, which also include Facebook and Instagram, have also been asked to put in place a system for prompt sharing of information sought by the law enforcement agencies for investigation purposes, officials added. A number of cases have come to the fore in recent past where social media platforms were used to spread hate messages and rumours inciting violence, including against women, but internet giants- most of them being headquartered outside India have been resisting sharing of customer details and message trails citing privacy issues.

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However, some social media firms have said they are taking necessary steps to stop misuse of their platforms for spread of fake news, and rumours and hate messages. In a meeting with asked representatives of various social media platforms, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba also asked them to nominate India-based grievance redressal officers and to develop a monitoring mechanism for time-bound preventive and other actions for removal of objectionable contents.

“The union home secretary asked them to take concrete steps to ensure a robust and effective system for preventing misuse of their platforms for activities detrimental to national security,” a home ministry official said. Those who attended the meeting included representatives of Facebook, Google, Twitter, Whatsapp, YouTube and Instagram. Besides, officials from the Department of Telecom and various security agencies were also present.

The meeting, which took place on October 24, was called to review actions taken so far to prevent misuse of social media sites by undesirable elements or miscreants to spread rumours, cause unrest, incite cyber crimes especially against women and children and other activities detrimental to national interest.

The representatives of social media platforms briefed the government officials about actions taken by them to ensure blocking of websites and for removal of objectionable and malicious contents from public view. All social media platforms have assured full cooperation with the government, another official said.

Since a review meeting held by the union home secretary with social media representatives in June this year, a series of meetings have taken place with law enforcement agencies and social media firms to ensure an effective mechanism to prevent misuse of these platforms by anti-national elements and those involved in the proliferation of child sexual abuse material etc.

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