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Govt bringing laws, taking steps to make social media platforms accountable: IT Min

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IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in Rajya Sabha (File image)

New Delhi: The government is bringing laws and is 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.

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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.

"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." He 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, and 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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"We are 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.

"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," the minister said.

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

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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."

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