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SC notice to Twitter, Centre on plea seeking to curb hate speech, abusive content

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New Delhi, Feb 12, 2021-
The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Centre and Twitter on a plea seeking a mechanism to check content on Twitter spreading hatred through fake news and instigative content through bogus accounts.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde issued the notice on a plea by BJP leader Vinit Goenka seeking a mechanism to check content on Twitter spreading hatred through fake news and instigative content through bogus accounts. The top court tagged the matter with similar pending petitions seeking social media regulation.

The plea, filed through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey, argued that presently total number of Twitter handles in India are around 35 million and total number of Facebook accounts are 350 million and experts says that around 10 per cent Twitter handles (3.5 million) and 10 per cent Facebook accounts (35 million) are duplicate/bogus/fake.

The petitioner argued that these fake Twitters handles and bogus Facebook accounts, have been created, in the name of eminent people and high dignitaries including the President of India, Vice President of India, Prime Minister of India, Chief Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Chief Justice of India and the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.

Goenka said that these fake Twitter handles and Facebook accounts use real photos of constitutional authorities and eminent citizens. As a result, the common man relies upon the messages published from these Twitter handles and Facebook accounts.

The petitioner insisted that fake news is the root cause of many riots, including the one in Delhi earlier this year. Moreover, bogus accounts are used to promote communalism, which is a threat to the unity of the country. The plea argued that political parties use fake social media accounts to tarnish the image of opponents during elections, and also self-promotion.

The plea sought the apex court to issue direction to the Centre, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Ministry of Law & Justice, and Twitter India to make a mechanism against the social media accounts in order to stop the hatred, fake, instigative and other news which are contrary to the law of the country or violates the law of the country.

The plea also sought directions to make a law to initiate action against Twitter and their representatives in India for wilfully abetting and promoting anti India tweets and penalising them.

The petitioner cited that the Ministry of Home Affairs has banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) under the Unlawful Activities and Prevention Act on July 10, 2019, yet this banned organisation continues to have an active presence on Twitter promoting its agenda. The petitioner argued despite sending a representation to the authority concerned no action has been taken against social media giant Twitter. (Agency)

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