Over 1,600 URLs blocked in India over last 18 months; Facebook took down most links under IT Act
As many as 1,662 uniform resource locators (URLs) or posts on social media were blocked over 18 months ending June 2018, Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister for electronics and information technology, told the Rajya Sabha (Parliament’s upper house) on 3 August, 2018, as part of an explanation on combating fake news.
- Chaitanya Mallapur
Mumbai: As many as 1,662 uniform resource locators (URLs) or posts on social media were blocked over 18 months ending June 2018, Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister for electronics and information technology, told the Rajya Sabha (Parliament’s upper house) on 3 August, 2018, as part of an explanation on combating fake news.
“Recently, it has come to the attention of the government of India that a number of disturbing instances causing loss of innocent lives have taken place in various parts of the country,” RS Prasad said in his reply on the issue of misuse of social media and fake news. “These are deeply painful and regrettable, as well as a matter of deep concern for the government.”
We have asked social media companies operating in India to:
- to appoint a grievance officer in India
- find technological solution for addressing mass circulation of fake news/ messages : @rsprasad in #RajyaSabha pic.twitter.com/X3P8QtwjQd
— RSPrasad Office (@OfficeOfRSP) August 3, 2018
To address the challenges of fake news / messages and its spread on social media we need to have technological solutions and administrative alertness as well: @rsprasad in #RajyaSabha pic.twitter.com/GS4gj9eNii — RSPrasad Office (@OfficeOfRSP) August 3, 2018
Facebook blocked the most (956 or 58 percent) of URLs, under section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, followed by Twitter (25 percent) and YouTube (9 percent).
Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000 says websites/pages can be blocked in “defence of India”, its sovereignty, security and integrity, foreign relations, public order and to prevent “incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to above”, Prasad said.
The “intermediary” or the website or page that fails to comply with the law can be punished with imprisonment up to seven years and fined.
Of 2,190 million Facebook users across the world, 9 percent were Indians as of March 2018; Indians account for 8 percent of Twitter’s user base and 4 percent of YouTube’s. They also accounted for 13 percent (200 million) of WhatsApp’s user base as of February 2017.
In July 2018, Facebook removed the news page of the right-wing fake news website Postcard News, which had over 5,00,000 followers, on grounds of posting content that violated intellectual property rights, including copyright and trademark, BOOM reported on 16 July, 2018.
Co-founder of Postcard news, Mahesh Hegde, was arrested “on charges of spreading fake and communally sensitive news” in March 2018, The Hindu reported on 30 March, 2018.
New, inexperienced smartphone users bearers of fake news
Spread of fake news has been “pernicious in India” with new and inexperienced smartphone users sending billions of WhatsApp messages every day, the Washington Post reported on 2 July, 2018.
Internet users in India increased 324 percent over six years to 2016, from 92 million to 390 million, compared to 60 percent in China to 750 million, 20 percent in Japan to 120, 14 percent in the US to 250 million and 63 percent in Brazil to 130 million over the same period, according to data from International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency.
India had 473 million wireless internet subscribers in India on March 2018, of which 30 percent (144 million) were in rural areas and the rest (329 million) in urban areas.
As many as 33 people have been killed in 69 mob attacks related to rumours of child lifting since January 2017, IndiaSpend reported on 9 July, 2018. About 77 percent of these were attributed to fake news spread through social media. WhatsApp featured as the leading rumour source, accounting for 28 percent or 19 of the cases.
To curb the spread of “misinformation”, the government has issued advisories to social-media platforms to prevent the proliferation of fake news.
(Mallapur is an analyst with IndiaSpend.)
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
The jewellery company said Tuesday that it's dropping the television commercial as it has stimulated divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective
As Guftagoo goes off air on Rajya Sabha TV, host Irfan weighs in on its historic run and state of film journalism today
Host Irfan looks back at his nine-year-long journey on the show, the celebrities who continue to evade him, and why a Hindi show on a public broadcast channel did not become a celebrity destination in the era of public relations and corporatisation
Rethinking role of presiding officers in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha will lead to better functioning of Parliament
A new setup that includes the guidelines outlined below could drastically reduce the abuse of their powers by the presiding officers of both Houses of Parliament