Home / News / India /  Social media misuse to spread fake news to invite strict action: Ravi Shankar

NEW DELHI: Amid tensions with micro blogging platform Twitter over blocking of accounts, the Centre on Thursday warned of strict action if social media platforms fail check content aimed at inciting violence and spreading fake news.

“Social media is an important component of #DigitalIndia. But if it is misused to spread fake news, incite violence or influence India’s electoral process, then strict action will be taken," information technology (IT) minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in the Rajya Sabha.

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The minster said social media companies such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, doing business in India will also have to abide by Indian laws. “We have immense respect for social media as it has empowered the citizens but today, I want to clearly state that be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or WhatsApp they are free to work in India, but they need to abide by the Constitution of India and laws of India," he said.

Prasad hit out at the microblogging platform for the different ways it dealt with the Capitol Hill episode in the US and the disturbance at Red Fort in India. “…these companies must understand that double standards don’t work," he retorted.

The spat with Twitter began few weeks ago after the IT ministry issued an order, directing it to remove posts and accounts using a controversial hashtag related to farmers protests and accounts supported by Khalistan sympathizers and backed by Pakistan. Twitter had blocked the handles but within few hours unblocked them, saying the company's policy tilted in favour of free speech and believed it to be consistent with Indian laws.

Soon after, the government issued a notice to Twitter for unilaterally unblocking the accounts and said it could face penal action for non-compliance of the order.

On Wednesday, Twitter, in a blog post said it has taken action against more than 1,000 accounts - 500 as sought by the government and an equal number that were found by the company to be engaging in platform manipulation and spam.

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