Social media platforms should be held accountable for user actions, experts argue

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The Supreme Court ruled heavily on Facebook earlier this week, stressing that Delhi “could not afford” a repeat of the February 2020 riots, and said the role of the social media giant needed to be considered.

It comes as the highest court refused to overturn the Delhi Assembly’s convocation to India’s Facebook director Ajit Mohan, who challenged two notices of solicitation of his presence issued by a Delhi Assembly committee. investigating the riots and Facebook’s role in the spread of alleged hate speech.

The Supreme Court said it was difficult to accept that Facebook is a “harmless” platform that plays no role in the generation and control of information.

The court further said that India’s “unity in diversity” could not be endangered by a “giant like FB claiming ignorance”, and added that Facebook and other social media platforms must remain accountable to those who give them broad powers.

Do these Supreme Court observations send a bigger message to social media giants doing business in India? To what extent can social media platforms be held accountable for user actions?

To discuss it, CNBC-TV18 spoke with cyber law expert Pavan Duggal, Internet Freedom Foundation executive director Apar Gupta and Supreme Court attorney NS Nappinai.

Apar Gupta said, “The Supreme Court ruling clearly shows us that social media platforms in India have a very wide reach and have significant social impacts. Facebook in particular has the largest user base in the world, which is present in India, as do other platforms owned by Facebook Inc, including WhatsApp and Instagram. With this enormous reach, the speed in terms of information dissemination, there is an injury that occurs, which is not localized, and occurs over a large geographic area and quite often the government systems for that are lacking. .

Duggal, on the other hand, said service providers clearly understand that they will have to comply with Indian law, but they want to postpone it where possible. He added that social media platforms expect some sort of shift in routine events so that they can potentially be preventative or avoid the actions they are required to take.

“So it’s part of a deliberate strategy that’s been thought of, which is why there are so many court challenges,” Duggal said.

For the full interview, watch the accompanying video …

(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)


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