New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) on Thursday dismissed a media report that claimed the Centre had asked Facebook to remove certain hashtags from its platforms, calling them "misleading and mischievous".

In a statement, the Meity said that the central government has not issued any such direction to Facebook and said that the social media platform has clarified that it had removed the hashtag by "mistake".

"A Wall Street Journal story attributing removal of certain hashtag by Facebook to Government of India's efforts to curb public dissent is misleading on facts and mischievous in intent. Government hasn't issued any direction to remove the hashtag. Facebook clarified it was removed by mistake," it said, as reported by news agency ANI.

Earlier in the day, the Facebook also confirmed that it had temporarily blocked a hashtag calling for the Prime Minister's resignation "by mistake" and that it wasn't done on government orders.

"We temporarily blocked this hashtag by mistake, not because the Indian government asked us to, and have since restored it," the social media giant had said.

The development comes amid reports that social media companies are being asked to remove posts that are critical of the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to reports, a hashtag calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was briefly blocked on Facebook on Wednesday. Users searching the hashtag were given a message that said such posts were "temporarily hidden here" because "some content in those posts goes against our Community Standards".

India is registering a record number of COVID-19 cases daily that has put extreme pressure on the healthcare infrastructure of the country.

The massive rise in infections in the second wave of the pandemic has led to hospitals in several states reeling under a severe shortage of medical oxygen and beds.

Social media timelines are filled with SOS calls with people looking for oxygen cylinders, hospital beds, plasma donors and ventilators. Organisations across the spectrum have come forward to support the fight against the COVID pandemic.

Recently, Twitter and other social media platforms removed about 100 posts and URLs after the government asked them to remove content that was critical of the handling of the current medical crisis or spreading fake news around the pandemic.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma