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Exclusive-In heated meeting, India seeks tougher action from US tech giants on fake news

NEW DELHI: Indian officials had a heated debate on Google, Twitter, Facebook and others, saying they didn’t actively remove what they described as fake news on the platform. I told Reuters.

Officials from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I & B) have strongly criticized the company, saying their omissions against fake news have forced the Indian government to remove content, and authorities are curbing free expression. He said it caused international criticism. Said.

Sources familiar with the minutes of Monday’s virtual meeting explained that the conversation was tense and hot, and the new relationship between the American high-tech giant and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration was low. It shows that.

Officials did not give an ultimatum to the company at the meeting, sources said. The government is tightening regulations in the tech sector, but we want companies to do more with content moderation.

The meeting was a follow-up after the Ministry of I & B used “emergency authority” in December and January to order blocking 55 channels on Google’s YouTube platform and some Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The government said the channel was promoting “fake news” or “anti-India” content, and disinformation was being disseminated by nearby Pakistan-based accounts.

The Ministry of I & B did not respond to requests for comment on the meeting. The conference was also attended by ShareChat and Koo, Indian content sharing platforms with millions of users in India.

Facebook, now known as Meta, Twitter, and ShareChat, declined to comment.

In a statement, Alphabet Inc’s Google said it would consider the government’s request without commenting on the meeting and “restrict or remove content as needed, in accordance with local law.” Koo said it is compliant with local law and has strong content moderation practices.

Twitter states in its transparency report that the Government of India has the highest number of requests to remove content from the platform. Technology website Comparisontech announced in October that India made 97,631 content removal requests in 2020. This is the second most common in the world after Russia, mainly against Facebook and Google.

Tensioned bond

During the meeting, senior technical executives instructed officials to take appropriate steps to eliminate or curb the spread of false information on the platform and respond to legally valid content removal requests. The source said.

Officials have told Google to review internal guidelines to automatically remove fake content, sources said.

Officials also said the government was disappointed that large social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, did not detect and remove such content themselves.

Instead, the government was forced to order the removal, was criticized, and damaged its public image, officials said during the meeting, sources said.

Google officials told I & B officials that one way to resolve it would be to avoid the ministry publishing its decision to remove it. According to one source, businesses may work with the government and act on suspicion of fake content, which could be in their favor.

The idea was immediately rejected by government officials. Government officials said the deletion also announced that the company wasn’t doing enough to tackle the fake news on its own.

The government ordered the deletion of certain online accounts in January, but said it did so to “protect India’s entire information environment,” such fake content was from the Indian Army, India’s Foreign Relations, He added that it was about “delicate themes” such as the locals. State elections.

Advocates of digital rights say that such government orders have curtailed freedom of speech and set a disturbing precedent.

“The detailed removal order has not been published by the government,” said Appal Gupta, managing director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, adding that the rationale for the action was not explained.

This allowed authorities to censor content without violating public order and morals or national security, he said.

(Report by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi, additional report by Elizabeth Culliford in New York, edited by Sanjeev Miglani and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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