GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges
Direction: The article tries to cover the larger issue of fake news in India along with ways to curb fake news and some best practices.
- The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) proposed a draft rule – Rule 3(1)(b)(v) of the amended version of the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.
- The proposed rule requires social media platforms to take down content that has been “fact-checked” by the Press Information Bureau’s (PIB) fact-check unit (or any other agency authorised by the Central Government) as false.
Background: The amended version of the IT Rules 2021 was enlarged to include the removal of fake news from online intermediaries.
The larger issue of fake news in India:
- Fake news is any piece of misleading maliciously false information circulating through print media, electronic media or social media.
- ‘Yellow Journalism’ and ‘Tabloid Journalism’ are the terms used for fake news.
- To increase their viewership and TRP through eye-catching headlines and cooked-up news.
- To spread propaganda/personal agenda/image building/defaming
- Negative impact on law and order of the state as well as the safety and security of the citizens. (31 mob lynchings due to fake news of being child abductors)
- Breed communal hatred and disturbs the communal harmony in a society.
- Affects the election outcomes via fabricated articles, audio, videos, and election campaigns. (Fake news accused of tampering U.S Presidential elections)
Laws to curb fake news:
- Section 66 D of the IT Act 2008 regulates offences related to electronic communication.
- The Disaster Management Act 2005 and the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 (especially during Covid-19) regulate the circulation of fake news or rumours that can cause panic among citizens.
- The Indian Penal Code of 1860 regulates fake news that causes riots and information that causes defamation.
Challenges in curbing fake news:
- India has 622 million active monthly internet users and the role of the different social digital platforms is on the rise.
- Due to end-to-end encryption of messages, third parties will not have any access to these messages.
- Hence, such fake news comes to the attention of the administration only if it is reported.
- There is no dedicated fake news law.
- The use of internet shutdowns to curb the spreading of fake news has been an effective way.
Concerns related to Rule 3(1)(b)(v) of the amended version of the IT Rules 2021:
- Anything contradicted by the government might be used to justify-content takedowns.
- The PIB’s fact-checking unit (established in 2019) verifies news about government ministries, departments, and schemes.
- But it rarely explains why information has been identified as false or misleading and, on some occasions, it tweeted incorrect information.
- A very strict fake news law is the need of the hour.
- Linking Aadhar to social media accounts, as suggested by Attorney General could be helpful.
- Being a digitally responsible citizen –
- By just rechecking the information from some authentic sources
- By applying common sense without getting biased
Some best practices:
- Facebook has partnered with a fact-checking website to check the authenticity of messages circulating through it.
- In 2018, Google news trained 8000 journalists in different Indian languages to spread awareness about Fake news and fact-checking.
The picture is clear, it is top-down misinformation
Q. What are social networking sites and what security implications do these sites present? (UPSC 2013)