Govt has never threatened Facebook or Twitter staff with jail terms: IT ministry

Social media platforms are ‘obliged to follow the laws of India and the Constitution of India, just like all other businesses in India have to’, it said

Big Tech is no monolith. Facebook is fighting Apple, as the latest operating system for iPhones and other i-gadgets allows the gadget’s owner to block any installed app tracking the owner’s online behaviour.

The government has never threatened employees of social media companies, including Twitter and Facebook, with jail terms, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said on Sunday.

Social media platforms are “obliged to follow the laws of India and the Constitution of India, just like all other businesses in India have to”, it said.

“As has been conveyed on the floor of Parliament, users of social media can criticise the government, the prime minister or any minister, but promotion of violence, rampant communal divide and stoking the flames of terrorism will have to be reflected upon,” the ministry said.

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The government recently ordered microblogging site Twitter to block more than a thousand accounts for allegedly spreading misinformation during farmer protests. The IT ministry gave Twitter a list of accounts that it claimed had links with supporters of Pakistan or were being run by Khalistan sympathisers.

Twitter initially did not fully comply but fell in line after the government showed the rulebook that contained penal provisions.

Also read: Comply with order or face action, Centre tells Twitter over farmers’ stir hashtags

The ministry went on to state that the recent guidelines pertaining to social media simply require the platforms to put in place a robust grievance redressal mechanism for users.

Also read: Twitter blocks multiple accounts linked to farm stir on government direction

“None of the government communications, either written or oral, have ever threatened the employees of any of the social media platforms of jail term,” it said.

“The government welcomes criticism and dissent. However, of late, repeated instances of abuse of social media to foment hate, discord and violence by terrorist groups from outside India and circulation of morphed images of women, revenge porn posing threat to the safety of users especially women users have become grave concerns,” it said.

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