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Centre will make social media accountable: Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

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New Delhi, July 5: Amid calls for the regulation of social media, Union Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Tuesday said that Centre will make social media accountable for its content.

"Social media accountability has become a valid question globally. It's important to hold it accountable, which will first start with self-regulation, then industry regulation, followed by government regulation..." news agency ANI quoted Vaishnaw as saying.

Centre will make social media accountable: Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

His statement comes at a time when Twitter has pursued judicial review to overturn Indian government orders to take down content on the social media platform. As per Reuters, Twitter alleged abuse of power by the Indian officials. Twitter argues in its request for a judicial review that some removal orders fell short of the procedural requirements of India's IT Act, the source said, without specifying which ones Twitter wanted to be reviewed.

The IT Minister claimed that the Internet on mobile phones and social media platforms has brought powerful and transformative changes, but it must come with the realisation of responsibilities. The minister said emphasising that social media and the digital world need to be made more accountable.

Regarding Twitter pursuing legal review of Indian orders, Vaishnaw said, "Be it any company, in any sector, they should abide by the laws of India. This is the responsibility of everyone to abide by the laws passed by the Parliament."

Twitter has been asked by Indian authorities over the past year to act on content including accounts supportive of an independent Sikh state, posts alleged to have spread misinformation about protests by farmers and tweets critical of the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported.

The Indian government has previously said that big social media firms, including Twitter, have not complied with removal requests, despite their legal standing. "Whatever legal changes are required, we will do. Within media groups, the self-regulation needed... self-regulation will be done...but wherever needed, we will take all steps to make social media more accountable," said Vaishnaw.

He spoke about the profit-sharing of the social media platforms, saying reporters and journalists too should be paid by the social media platforms, if they use their inputs.

Two days ago, Supreme Court Judge Justice JB Pardiwala, who was part of a vacation bench that criticised suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma over her Prophet remarks, slammed "personal attacks" made on judges for their judgments on social media sites.

He claimed that digital and social media needs to be regulated throughout the country to preserve the rule of law under the constitution. "In the modern-day context, trials by digital media are an undue interference in process of justice dispensation and cross that the Lakshman Rekha many-a-times," he said.

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