oppn parties Social Media Platforms Must Be Made Accountable

News Snippets

  • University vice-chancellors in West Bengal decide not to hold final-year examinations despite UGC prod, will instead go by the state government advised 80-20 formula where 80% will be marked on performance in past semesters and 20% on internal assessments in the final semester
  • The Centre wants the ITI and other top Indian firms to bid for 5G as Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE are not likely to be allowed to participate
  • India and China agree on total disengagement to return to peace ahead of the next round of military talks
  • The Supreme Court allows delivery of summons and notices via WhatsApp and email, but questions remain on proof of actual receipt
  • National Investigation Agency says the proceeds from the Kerala gold smuggling case could have been used for terrorist activities
  • Four Maoists shot dead in Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar
  • Despite localized lockdown, Covid cases continue to rise at an alarming rate in West Bengal. Newer areas brought under containment zones in Kolkata
  • ICSE, ISC results declared, Average scores in the English paper, 20% lower this year than the average in most years, pulls down the aggregate for most candidates
  • IIP contracts by 35% in May. Manufacturing goes down by 39.3%
  • Row erupts over CBSE's decision to reduce the syllabus by 30% this academic year due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. Experts say several lessons that the ruling dispensation does not like are being removed
  • Gangster Vikas Dubey's nephew killed in an encounter by UP police who also pick up his key aide Raju Khullar and his son Adarsh
  • MHA sets up an inter-ministerial committee to probe the alleged financial misdeeds of three trusts linked to the Gandhi family
  • Actor Jagdeep, most famous for his Soorma Bhopali act in Sholay, passes away
  • Pakistan says Kulbhushan Jadhav has declined to file a review petition and will stick to his mercy plea. India calls it a farce
  • India to keep a strict vigil to confirm that the Chinese are abiding by the deal on the pullback at the LAC
Amitabh Bachchan and his son Abhishek admitted to hospital for coronavirus
oppn parties
Social Media Platforms Must Be Made Accountable

By Linus Garg
First publised on 2020-06-26 08:52:01

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Linus tackles things head-on. He takes sides in his analysis and it fits excellently with our editorial policy. No 'maybe's' and 'allegedly' for him, only things in black and white.

Is totally unfettered and unaccountable social media in anyone's interest? It is true that these platforms provide a channel of expression to the ordinary citizen, but how many such ordinary citizens are the originators of most of the content that makes its way to these platforms? It is also true that many incidents are now being first reported by the so-called citizen reporter who is accidentally or fortunately present at the scene. But that is very infrequent.

Most of the time, dedicated, targeted, morphed, slanted and often mischievous and fake information, opinion and 'news' are 'created' in the form of written words, graphics, videos, memes and more by interested persons and published in such a manner that it reaches a wide audience. Unsuspecting citizens, not knowing the origin and believing it because it is forwarded by someone known to them, keep on forwarding it to make it viral. After that, the WhatsApp University takes over and a large number of people are brainwashed to the extent of starting riots or worse.

If a print publication or a television channel (or even a digital media platform) were to publish such news or opinion, it would immediately be held accountable under a plethora of laws. Then why not apply the same strict laws to social media platforms? In the US, President Donald Trump has already said that he would take internet companies out of the ambit of the protection granted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This section protects internet companies as they are not deemed publishers of user-generated content. This is a step in the right direction as it will bring internet companies at par with the traditional media.

In an editorial, The Economic Times has argued that internet companies should be made to store content posted by users based in India on servers located in India. It suggested that social media companies working in India must follow all India laws and must remove content identified as mala fide within a given time frame once they are informed about it. It calls for a level playing field for all media - traditional as well as new age. This is a sane and logical suggestion and the government must work to implement it.