ashwini vaishnaw rajya sabha socia media: Government bringing laws, taking steps to make social media platforms accountable: Ashwini Vaishnaw

The government is bringing laws and taking other steps to make social media platforms more accountable for any slanderous content posted on their platforms, IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw informed the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

The minister, who was responding to supplementaries during question hour, said the government is amending intermediary rules for social media to tackle the menace of misinformation and deep fake.

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“Yes, we are amending the intermediary rules. The reason for that is the deep fake issues have come up in a very big way,” the minister told the house.

He added, “With the spread of misinformation and deep fakes, we must take strict and urgent action to ensure that this menace is removed. So we are amending the intermediary rules. We are coming up with provisions where there is a significant responsibility bestowed on the social media platforms so that they can detect deep fakes, they can detect misinformation and take early action.”

Vaishnaw said most of the social media platforms are already moderating a lot of content and these sites are no longer a pure platform they were 30 years back. Entire global regulatory body is reaching a kind of a consensus on the matter, Vaishnaw said

He urged the members of the house, too, to develop some sort of consensus on the need for more responsibility from social media portals for what they allow on their platforms.

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The minister said the government is creating an institutional framework for the digital economy. “That institutional framework has three parts – first is having a new set of legislations. The Telecom bill has been passed by this house, the personal digital data protection bill has been passed by this house, and another bill is in the works.”He further added, “The rules and regulations and the entire implementation mechanism is being converted to a totally digital mechanism. We are also working very closely with almost every stakeholder to make sure that our internet is safe, it is trusted and it is delivering what is intended.”

In reply to another supplementary by Rajeev Shukla (Congress) on the misuse of social media and the difficulty in getting slanderous posts removed, Vaishnaw reiterated that the social media platforms will have to take responsibility.

Shukla had earlier said gangs were duping people through social media, freedom of expression was being curtailed there, and there was no accountability for slanderous posts.

The minister said there needs to be a consensus in the Upper House as well on forging a mechanism to force social media platforms to remove fake or slanderous material. He also acknowledged the positive impact social media has on the society.

“This cannot happen. Social media platforms have a lot of value in society. It has a positive value and it is our collective responsibility to solve its negative issue,” he said, adding, “we need to frame stricter laws.”