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NEW DELHI : The government can look at strengthening provisions of the Amended IT Rules to deter platforms from attempting to shadowban user accounts or distort conversations, said Rajeev Chandrashekhar, minister of state for electronics and information technology.

"We are absolutely determined to make the internet safe and trusted place for all of our digital nagriks. If our rules as amended today, deliver on that because the platforms recognize the intention of the government to do that, so be it. But if the rules do not, then we will have to do something else," he said.

Chandrashekhar added that the government would consider the unfolding events and that discussions around such issues could be included in the upcoming Digital India Act which will be put up for public consultation soon.

The minister was responding to the Twitter Files Part Two revelations by independent journalist Bari Weiss, which showed that the social media giant was secretly “blacklisting" some tweets and accounts of users without their knowledge, and how the company used "visibility filtering" to effectively “shadow ban" users to limit the visibility of tweets on the platform. It showed that the platform was not only actively involved in figuring out whose content went there but actively involved shaping the emphasis of conversations.

"Twitter was playing God, against ethos of any liberal democracy," he said.

Chandrashekhar said that the findings were disturbing and brought to light the misuse of power by the platform that claimed to be a public square, which was leading to weaponising misinformation.

"Facts emerging from Twitter Files vindicated a widely held view that all was not right. That type of weaponising of misinformation, and abuse of power is not acceptable. It will not be tolerated," he said.

He noted that violation of the Amended IT Rules will lead to platforms losing their safe harbour provisions and will be liable for prosecution. At the same time he said that the government does not want the discourse with platforms to be adversarial and rather be partners in building a safe, trusted and accountable internet.

"We can only appeal social media platforms to heed to the new rules. However if they still violate them, then we will remove them from using safe hours provisions and they will be liable for prosecution," he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gulveen Aulakh

Gulveen Aulakh is Senior Assistant Editor at Mint, serving dual roles covering the disinvestment landscape out of New Delhi, and the telecom & IT sectors as part of the corporate bureau. She had been tracking several government ministries for the last ten years in her previous stint at The Economic Times. An IIM Calcutta alumnus, Gulveen is fluent in French, a keen learner of new languages and avid foodie.
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