The Indian government will take strict action if social media is misused for fanning violence, spreading fake news and creating disharmony in the country, union minister for electronics and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad said while speaking in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

He added that India is open to criticism, right from the PM to the government because it’s part of the Constitution but strict action will be taken if companies do not control fake news be it Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or Whatsapp.

“You can work in India, have crores of followers, we respect that. You can earn money here but you will have to follow the government’s laws and India’s Constitution,” said Prasad in the backdrop of the face-off with Twitter over blocking access to accounts allegedly fanning farmer protests in the country.

The Centre had told Twitter on Wednesday that it has to comply with the Indian laws irrespective of the company’s rules and called out the differential treatment in its actions during the Capitol Hill episode and the disturbance in Red Fort and its aftermath.

Conveying a “deep sense of disappointment”, the government said Twitter was siding not with “freedom of expression” but rather with those who seek to abuse such freedom and provoke disturbance to public order. The company is “welcome to do business in India but it must respect and abide by the Indian laws, which are enacted by the Parliament of India”, the government said.

Twitter in a blog on Wednesday had said that it has not taken “any action” to suspend the accounts of news media entities, journalists, activists and politicians as it would violate “fundamental right to free expression under Indian law”.

In a meeting chaired by ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney and attended by Twitter vice-president of global public policy, Monique Meche and Jim Baker Deputy General Counsel, the government expressed strong displeasure over the way Twitter acted after an emergency order was issued to remove the “farmer genocide” hashtag.

“Spreading misinformation using an incendiary and baseless hashtag referring to ‘farmer genocide’ at a time when such irresponsible content can provoke and inflame the situation is neither journalistic freedom nor freedom of expression as envisaged under Article 19 of the Constitution of India,” the government said in a statement that was promoted on Koo, the local rival of Twitter, on Wednesday.





News Of India

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