Indian government tightens the noose on social media. Facebook and Google is working with the government officials to remove defamatory content related to North East tensions. Twitter might face legal action if it doesn’t co-operate.
Social media is a double-edged sword! At one end it is a source of work for some and at the other end it has become a threat. The ongoing North East communal riots that have been the front line of every news daily, have put the Indian government in a fix. Somehow the riots have been controlled.
However, the massacre has also raised the question of security of thousands of people from NE who are living in other states for work or education. Believing these rumors to be true, NE people have rushed back to their states creating a big question of law and order. Reacting on this the government has placed the blame on,
1) Our neighboring country, Pakistan and
2) Social Media
Indian government has raised concerns that people from Pakistan are uploading content on social media sites that is objectionable and are leading to rumors. However, our friendly neighbor has asked for valid proof before they can look into this matter.
In tandem the government has once again put the blame on the use of social media. Recently the ministers of GOI have blamed social networking sites like Facebook for increasing the rumors.
This is not the first time that the government has put it’s trigger on social media. It had done this earlier when Kapil Sibal proposed that content should be monitored. Coincidentally, at the same time Vinay Rai filed a case against 21 sites like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, etc which later became a debatable topic. However, we thought that the whole matter was settled but I don’t think I see it going to settle any sooner in the near future.
If sources are to be trusted Government has planned to go by the law if Twitter fails to work along with the government. As reports say, sites like Facebook and Google are working with the Indian government to remove content that is derogatory and defamatory. The Government has also blocked close to 250 photo uploading sites in it’s mission to stop the online proliferation of the rumor mongers. However, it would be interesting to see if the Government would be successful enough to file a case against Twitter since it doesn’t operate from India.
Twitter, which has always been caught in such situations, had earlier blogged that it will be obeying the laws of different nations. In other words, Twitter took steps to censoring content. In the month of June, Twitter released a report which indicated that there were no more than 10 requests from India, of which zero were acted upon.
But can it really control?
I have argued time and again that in controlling social media, the government is doing a quick fix and not solving the real issues. I have also debated on why hasn’t government used social media till day to benefit from it. Although the government has created a presence it is nothing more than blowing its own trumpet.
It would be interesting to follow how Twitter is going to filter India specific tweets as TNW shares considering the sheer volume of tweets the platform generates. Twitter revealed in March that 140 million active users send 340 million tweets per day.
Defamatory content should be removed but who draws the final line is something to brainstorm. For now we will have to see whether Twitter cooperates with the Indian government officials.