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TIFR clarifies after circular on social media creates a storm

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After instructing its staff not to post any “anti-government content” on social media, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) clarified on Saturday (April 16) that the wording of the notice had led to “a great deal of misinterpretation”.

In its letter dated April 13, the institution had said, “It has been noticed that certain disgruntled employees have been sharing anti-government content over social media. The activities have been red-flagged by the agencies and the department.”

Further, it went on to say, “Staff members of the institute are requested to refrain from uploading any photographs of videos, related to the institute, its centres and field stations, residential colonies or any other government property over social media platforms, as the same could lead to serious security consequences. Staff members are further informed to desist from uploading any anti-government content over social media. Family members too should be appraised about the same.”

Mumbai-based TIFR is a National Centre of the Government of India (GoI), under the umbrella of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

Now, TIFR said that rules were already in place as mentioned in the notice and fresh communication was only meant to clarify that those guidelines applied to social media, electronic media and print media.

It said it had issued instructions to its employees on April 13, imposing restrictions on them, following notice to that effect by the DAE.

“On April 13, 2022, consequent to a notice issued by the DAE, the Registrar of TIFR had issued a notice to all TIFR employees, imposing restrictions on (1) posting pictures or videos of the Institute premises and (2) making anti-government statements in posts on social media, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.,” the TIFR said.

“Unfortunately, the wording of the notice was such that it has become subject to a great deal of misinterpretation,” it added.

“The purpose of the notice was to clarify that both the above pre-existing rules also apply to social media and other media, such as TV, or print media. No new restrictions on family members and visitors of staff members are being imposed or are intended to be imposed. This note is being issued to clarify this point…Making public criticisms against the institution or the government has always required prior permission,” it said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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