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SC sends notice to Twitter, govt to check spread of fake news

The petition was filed by BJP leader Vinit Goenka in May 2020.

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has issued notice on a petition filed by BJP leader Vinit Goenka, seeking direction to the Union government to devise a mechanism to check fake news and instigative messages being circulated on social media giant Twitter.

The plea pinpointed "bogus accounts" that are spreading hateful advertisements and anti-India content on Twitter, seeking to screen such content as well as advertisements and paid content that may have material which is hateful, inciting, or seditious, reported Livelaw.

In the absence of a mechanism or a law to check online content, social media platforms such as Twitter are being misused to "amplify and call out" for activities that are against the spirit of the Union of India, the petition moved by Goenka stated. It further alleged that Twitter "knowingly promotes" such posts and accounts.

"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 read.

A bench headed by chief justice of India SA Bobde has tagged Goenka's appeal with a bunch of similar petitions already pending before it.

Though the BJP leader's petition was filed in May 2020, the Supreme Court's action in the matter comes at a time when Twitter is at loggerheads with the Centre over taking down accounts which the latter has censured for carrying “inflammatory content” related to farmers' protests such as farmer genocide hashtag.

The flashpoint came 10 days ago when Twitter blocked over 200 tweets and handles that the NDA government wanted removed from public view. Within hours of doing this though, the social media network restored some of the accounts and tweets, a move that drew the ire of MeitY and threats of jail time for the company’s executives.

Even in the wake of this, Twitter had maintained a defiant stance, reiterating  its commitment to balancing the removal of content with the idea of protecting public conversation.

However, earlier today, media reports claimed that Twitter had more or less complied with the full extent of the Centre's directives and taken down over 97 per cent of the handles flagged by MeitY

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