A man uses a smartphone in Mumbai, India, on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok will have to reveal users' identities if Indian government agencies ask them to, according to the country’s controversial new rules for social media companies and messaging apps expected to be published later this month. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)
A man uses a smartphone in Mumbai, India, on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok will have to reveal users' identities if Indian government agencies ask them to, according to the country’s controversial new rules for social media companies and messaging apps expected to be published later this month. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)

Government threatens to crack whip on social media platforms

The meeting with prominent social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, among others, was held at the ministry.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2020 07:00 AM IST

Less than a week after communal clashes left 47 people dead and scores injured in north-east Delhi ; the Union home ministry cracked the whip on social media platforms and have even threatened them with criminal action if they fail to act in time, senior government officials, who did not want to be named, said on Tuesday.

The meeting with prominent social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, among others, was held at the ministry. Senior ministry officials, including the Delhi Police top brass, were also present in the meeting, an official said.

The government has taken exception to social media platforms for being lax about posts that are likely to trigger violence and communal disharmony.

Besides, the ministry is of the opinion that social media platforms take “inordinately long” to act on a post that could lead to disharmony and violence even after such posts are brought to their notice.

Delhi Police has identified several such incendiary posts that it believes incited last week’s violence in Delhi.

“We have sensitised them [social media platforms]. We have also explained to them the legal position,” said a second senior official, who did not want to be named.

“If posts on social media lead to violence, social media platforms are squarely responsible, as there are enough provisions in the law,” he said.

For instance, social media platforms can be prosecuted under Section 120B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), among others, he added.

Social media platforms have agreed to work more closely with Delhi Police, a third official, who did not want to be named, but was aware of the details said

The ministry refused to comment on the meeting. Twitter officials, however, confirmed that enforcement agencies, social media platforms and the ministry officials did meet on Tuesday.

“Twitter remains committed to working with governments around the world, including in India, to encourage healthy behaviour on the service. We appreciate the importance of the work being undertaken by the ministry of home affairs and we thank them for inclusive engagement,” a spokesperson for the microblogging service said.

Other social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp did not respond to queries.

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