New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday told the Parliament that the government will take tough action if social media is misused to spread fake news and violence. 

"We respect social media a lot, it has empowered common people. Social media has a big role in Digital India programme. However, if social media is misused to spread fake news, violence then action will be taken," he said in the Rajya Sabha today. 

On Wednesday, the Centre expressed "strong displeasure" over Twitter's delay in taking prompt action against accounts and hashtags spreading misinformation and provocative content around the farmers' stir, as the IT Ministry made it clear that the company must comply with the country's laws irrespective of the platform's own rules.

After the Centre asked Twitter to suspend 1,178 accounts with links to Pakistan and Khalistan supporters which were spreading misinformation and provocative content on farmers' protest, Twitter suspended over 500 accounts, and blocked access to several others within India while refusing to block accounts of "news media entities, journalists, activists and politicians" citing the need to uphold freedom of expression.

The government questioned the manner in which Twitter "officially allows fake, unverified, anonymous and automated bot accounts to be operated on its platform" and said it raises doubts about its commitment to transparency and healthy conversation on the platform.

The "deep sense of disappointment" at seeing Twitter "side not with 'freedom of expression' but rather with those who seek to abuse such freedom and provoke disturbance to public order" was conveyed to the company, the statement added. 

The Secretary also flagged the issue around a 'toolkit' that was shared on its platform amid the farmers' protest, and said the chain of events had made it evident that a strong social media campaign was planned in a foreign country around the agitation.

"Misuse of Twitter's platform for execution of such campaigns designed to create disharmony and unrest in India is unacceptable and Twitter must take strong action against such well-coordinated campaigns against India, through compliance with the applicable law of the land," the statement said.

(With PTI inputs)

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta