Amid Centre’s ongoing face-off with Twitter, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said that the double standards of social media platforms will not be allowed in India. “Be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or WhatsApp, action will be taken if these platforms are misused,” the minister said replying to a host of questions in Parliament.
“Work in India. You have crores of followers here. We respect that. Make money but you will have to abide by Indian laws and the Constitution,” the minister said. The minister’s statement comes a day after the IT ministry expressed its strong displeasure over Twitter’s conduct in the aftermath of Red Fort breach on January 26.
“We have now flagged Twitter. Our department has engaged with Twitter. That’s why I didn’t want to comment on this issue outside and chose the House to raise these questions. What is the matter that when there is violence in US Capitol Hill, social media platforms stand by police investigation but when Red Fort is breached, the same platforms go against the Indian government? Red Fort is the symbol of our pride. We won’t allow these double standards,” the minister said.
“What is this? You are trending hashtags supporting massacre, genocide?” the minister said.
“We respect social media a lot. It has empowered common people. Social media has a big role in the Digital India programme. However, if social media is misused to spread fake news, violence then action will be taken,” the minister said.
Commenting on the government’s commitment to free speech and individual freedom, the minister said, “This government is led by leaders who have fought for the freedom of individuals, freedom of media, independence of the judiciary.” “This includes our Prime Minister, you, Rajnath Singh ji, Prakash Javadekar and also me. Our commitment to freedom of media is complete and total. But we are equally concerned about the security and sovereignty of India,” Prasad said addressing chairman Venkaiah Naidu.
Replying to a question on social media being used to interfere with the election process, the minister said, “We respect the election process of India. If social media platforms are misused to tamper with the election process, our election commission and the government will take stern action.”
On fake news on social media platforms, the minister said that the ministry of information and broadcasting has a cell to bust fake news.
I would urge social media platforms to measure this unbridled exposure on your internal guidelines and take actions. You are showing revenge sex videos, porn videos in an unbridled manner,” the minister said.