In a recent statement, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal stressed on the need of having an institutional mechanism in place to prevent the misuse of social networking websites in the country. “We have to make efforts in consultation with the websites and impress upon them to create an institutional mechanism to prevent misuse of technology,” he was quoted as saying outside the Parliament House. Now, in a step in that direction, the government is working alongwith social networking websites towards creating an institutional mechanism to check the misuse of social networking websites in the country. The recent turn of events, especially those pertaining to the widespread NE exodus in the country, shed light on the role that social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter play in our lives today. Earlier reports have already established the fact that web pages containing content offensive to the sentiments of those from the North East were splashed across the web in an attempt to incite violence and trigger fear in the country.

Setting up institutional mechanism to check social networking misuse (Image credit: Getty Images

Setting up institutional mechanism to check social networking misuse (Image credit: Getty Images

Sibal opined that if technology was misused, then there should be provision for punishment and that such a thing is not available at the moment. He added further, “Now we have to decide the steps we have to take under our laws on how we can take it forward so that we can seek help from these websites in the coming days. We can identify those who have misused these website and punish them.”

In his statement, Sibal added that some websites have agreed to share user information with the government. 

Facebook affirmed yesterday that it is working with the Indian government in an attempt to remove all “hateful” content from its website. That bit of information was the latest to unfold in what has been an ongoing exercise by the government since a few days now – i.e., deleting offensive material on the Internet, potent to cause communal tension in the country – the count for which reached 310 yesterday, with the government banning 65 more web pages.

A company spokesperson was quoted as saying, “Facebook will remove content which breaches our terms as set out in our statement of rights and responsibilities. Content or individuals can be removed from Facebook for a variety of reasons, including issuing direct calls for violence or perpetuating hate speech. We have received requests from Indian authorities and agencies and are working through those requests and responding to the agencies. We encourage people to continue to use our tools to report content they are concerned about so that we can investigate and take action fast.”

Even as you read this, the government is quickly working towards shutting down websites in the light of the North-East exodus. The Centre has come down heavily on the channels it believes are playing a role in triggering fear and leading to the exodus. It has been found that morphed images and videos were uploaded to these websites with an aim to incite the Muslim community in the country. 

Reports have also been indicating that a Pakistan-based hardline group carried out the task of doctoring the images and disseminated them through popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. A report by the Home Ministry states that the majority of the content appeared online on July 13. Reportedly, fake profiles were created to spread the morphed images. 

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