The official from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry reportedly had heated arguments with the executives of tech giants including Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. over the spread of fake news through their platform.
The officials have also asked the companies to increasingly moderate such false content on a proactive basis, Reuters claimed in a report.
Citing unnamed sources Reuters said that the conversation between both the sides was ‘tense and ‘heated’, thus signalling a new low in ties between American tech giants and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, the sources have maintained that I&B ministry officials did not issue any ultimatum to the companies at the meeting.
It was reported last week that five separate emergency orders were issued under rule 16 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 to block social media accounts and websites. The list of blocked entities includes 35 YouTube channels, two websites, two Twitter accounts, two Instagram accounts and one Facebook account. India had blocked 20 YouTube channels and two websites in December 2021 for similar violations.
India has seen a massive increase in the userbase of social media networks in the last few years. According to Statista, the number of YouTube users in India stood at 459.23 million and is projected to reach 833.03 million by 2025.
Likewise, Facebook’s user base in India amounts to approximately 433.75 million users last year and the number of users is projected to increase to 677.34 million by 2025.
Even though these companies have taken stringent measures to curb misinformation, they have failed to clamp down on them completely. As per Comparitech, India made 97,631 content removal requests in 2020 with the majority of these (76%) were directed toward Facebook.