Centre slams Google, Twitter, FB on inaction over 'fake news'text_fields
New Delhi: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) officials has viciously criticised online companies Google, Facebook and Twitter for their passiveness in removing information the ministry flagged as fake news. The officials have said that the companies' inaction has forced the government to remove the content and ended up facing international flak that the Indian government is suppressing people's freedom of expression, Reuters reported.
They said that the ministry had a virtual meeting with the three companies on Monday, which had staged heated exchanges. Though the government has not pronounced any ultimatum to the companies in the meeting, it is expecting them to contribute more to fake content regulation, officials told Reuters.
According to sources, during the meeting, senior tech executives for the companies told the officials that they were actively blocking misinformation with adequate measures and acting on valid legal content removal requests. Google said that its internal guidelines automatically remove fake content. It told I&B officials that to resolve the ministry being criticised for ordering content removal, it should stop taking removal requests to the public. The companies could work with the government in dealing with fake content. But ministry officials rejected the idea saying that takedown orders going public will reveal that the companies are not working enough to restrict fake news by themselves.
The meeting happened after I&B employed its "emergency powers" blocking 55 channels on YouTube, and some Twitter, as well as Facebook, accounts in last December and January. The ministry had then reasoned that the blocked channels promoted fake news and 'anti-India' content churned out by Pakistan based accounts.
Google had said in a statement that it is reviewing the government's requests, which were appropriate, and they will restrict content as per local laws. Twitter, in their transparency report, said that India is among those who made the highest number of requests for content removal. Comparitech, a technological website, had said in October that the Indian administration made 97,631 content removal requests to Twitter in 2020, which is the second-highest after Russia.