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Facebook has failed in tackling illegal content, says K N Govindacharya to High Court


NEW DELHI: Former RSS idealogue K N Govindacharya has told the Delhi High Court that the presence of groups like ‘bois locker room’ indicate Facebook‘s “failure in tackling fake news, hate speech and illegal criminal content” on its social media platform. The submission by Govindacharya has been made in his reply to Facebook’s claims in the high court that it has put in place measures like community standards, third party fact checkers, reporting tools and artificial intelligence to detect and prevent the spread of inappropriate or objectionable content like hate speech and fake news.

In his rejoinder filed through advocate Virag Gupta, the former RSS idealogue has said, “The presence of groups like bois locker room show the inaction and failure of the respondent (Facebook) in tackling fake news, hate speech and illegal criminal content on social media”.

The social media platform had made the claims in its response to his PIL seeking directions to the Centre, Google, Facebook and Twitter to ensure removal of fake news and hate speech circulated on these three and other online platforms as well as disclosure of their designated officers in India.

Govindacharya has also moved an application, in his petition, seeking removal of illegal groups like ‘bois locker room’ from social media platforms for the safety and security of children in cyberspace.

Replying to the PIL and the application, Facebook had said it cannot remove any allegedly illegal group, like the ‘bois locker room’, from its platform as removal of such accounts or blocking access to them came under the purview of the discretionary powers of the government according to the Information Technology (IT) Act.

It has contended that any “blanket” direction to social media platforms to remove such allegedly illegal groups would amount to interfering with the discretionary powers of the government.

The tech company further said directing social media platforms to block “illegal groups” would require such companies, like Facebook, to first “determine whether a group is illegal – which necessarily requires a judicial determination – and also compels them to monitor and adjudicate the legality of every piece of content on their platforms”.

Opposing Facebook’s claims, Govindacharya in his rejoinder has contended that while the Indian arm of the social media platform claimed in court that it does not regulate any content on its site, it was “actively involved in moderation and removal of objectionable content”.

“It indicates three crucial aspects. First, Facebook India is having full control and authority over Indian operations, yet they gave false statement before this court to escape from legal liability. Secondly, Facebook India is arbitrarily removing content with the objective of maximizing its commercial gains.

“Thirdly, in the matter of social interest and public order, Facebook India and other social media companies do not take appropriate action for want of specific judicial directions. Accordingly, the cloak of corporate veil needs to be torn apart as such pleas taken by the private respondent are in fact perjury,” he has said in the rejoinder.

He has further alleged in his rejoinder that Facebook “picks and chooses the content it wants to remove, even if the content not being removed is criminal, harmful and violates the general criminal law”.

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