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SC notice to Centre, Twitter on plea seeking to regulate ‘hateful content’

Seeking their responses on the plea by BJP leader Vinit Goenka, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde directed that the petition be tagged with similar pending petitions praying for laws to regulate social media content.

The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to Centre and Twitter India on a plea seeking a mechanism to stop social media platforms like the latter from spreading fake, hateful and instigative content in contravention of the laws of the country.

Seeking their responses on the plea by BJP leader Vinit Goenka, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde directed that the petition be tagged with similar pending petitions praying for laws to regulate social media content.

The plea, filed through Advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey, contended that fake news “is the root cause of many riots including the recent riots (in north east Delhi)” and added that in the absence of any law to deal with offensive and hateful message, platforms like Twitter are knowingly promoting content which is against the law of the land.

He said that global terror groups “use” the Twitter platform as it helps them avoid detection.

The plea also referred to the recent order of the Central government asking Twitter to block several handles spreading allegedly provocative content.

It said that following the Republic Day violence, the Delhi Police had stated that over 300 Twitter handles were created from Pakistan to spread panic on January 26 and that Twitter “have not even cared to censor those handles which were the reason for creating the unrest in the country”.

Citing media reports, Goenka said the Centre had issued notice to the micro-blogging platform “for not complying (with) its order to remove contents and account related to the farmer genocide hashtags” and warned it of penal consequences.

“However…there is no specific law as per which Twitter and its office bearers can be held accountable for violating the law of the country,” the plea said, urging the court “to take appropriate action in the larger interest of the country”.

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