Author: Ishakaran Singh Bhandari
Social media came into existence at the end of the 20th century and became a mass media without surveillance in the early 21st century. Unlike traditional media platforms such as newspapers, there is no ‘editor’ who decides what is published and what is not. Editors traditionally not only monitor, but are also legally responsible for, what is written by a person on their platform.
Some legal changes were made to reinforce the concept that such platforms have no legal responsibility for issues published on social media platforms without the editor. For
Accusations of bias
The problem began with accusations of bias against these platforms. These platforms are no longer just middlemen or middlemen. They are promoting certain types of discussions and prohibiting certain discussions based on their opaque algorithms. For example, when it comes to Twitter, it resorts to methods like shadow banning, downranking, arbitrary suspension of account. This is ‘editorial’ work.
This issue is being raised worldwide. In October 2020, the US Senate summoned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. They were specifically asked why some of the tweets were deleted, while the rest were allowed to remain. Similarly, Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg was also asked for a response to allegations of bias. The Indian Parliament also summoned Jack Dorsey in February 2019. He, however, refused to attend and sent Twitter’s public policy head Colin Crowell as his representative.
Now Twitter has introduced ‘Fact-Check’. This is also editorial work. It was under this that Twitter slapped Manipulated Media (manipulated information) on some tweets of BJP leaders over the alleged Congress tool-kit, which was much debated. As a result, Delhi Police’s Special Cell summoned Twitter MD Manish Maheshwari and the Special Cell team also reached two offices of Twitter India on 24 May.
In February this year, the Government of India issued Information Technology Rules, 2021. Large social media platforms were given up to three months till May 26, 2021 to follow the new rules, failing which they would lose their positions of intermediaries or intermediaries. He can also be held responsible for criminal prosecution under the current laws of India. Following the initial protests, these companies have broadly followed the complaint redressal mechanism of the guidelines on May 28, while WhatsApp has challenged the ‘Identity of the first creator of the message’ portion of the High Court. But this is not enough. These companies have to be transparent and unbiased in their functioning in India.
Recently, objecting to a tweet by the Chief Minister of Delhi, the Singapore government issued an order for Twitter and Facebook under the local law, and immediately following the order, removed the ‘Singapore strain’ wherever it was mentioned. On the other hand, it has not yet been implemented despite the Government of India asking it to remove the content referring to ‘Indian variants’ of the corona virus. Such incidents are a threat to India’s image and national security. This writer in his demand letter to the Union Home Minister on January 28, 2019, warned about the national security risks when social media was allowed to act with laxity in relation to Indian laws.
The Indian government has banned some Chinese apps in the interest of national security, but it is not right to ban Facebook, Twitter and other such social media. This can have adverse effects. A dual-level strategy is needed to deal with the challenges presented by foreign-owned social media platforms.
First of all, there is a need to develop a better Indian social media app, which will also ensure data sovereignty and privacy of citizens. Secondly, there is a need to strictly follow Indian laws by imposing fines on social media platforms for every violation of the law. There are many such examples from other countries. In 2019, the US Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $ 5 billion for violating the privacy rights of consumers. In 2017, the European Union (EU) fined Google $ 2.8 billion for abusing market dominance. If they still do not abide by Indian laws, then the protection given to them under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 should be removed and they should be allowed to face the civil and criminal laws of India as for the things published in the newspapers. The editors do. This is the demand for India’s national interest and sovereignty of national law.
(The author is a well-known lawyer)
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own
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