The Indian Government has received confirmation from Facebook and Google that they will help remove hateful content pertaining to the recent North East issue from their online repositories. The situation had worsened when many north-eastern people in the country had fled back to their hometowns due to alleged hateful sms and postings on social media. The Government immediately put out a ban on bulk SMS to curb the situation. I have written about how this step was not the right way to go about the problem. The Government had also asked the major Internet services in the country to help remove those hateful pictures and posts.
It seems that both Google and Facebook have agreed to help remove the offending content from their sites. There is no such luck with Twitter and Microsoft though. Twitter is popular in India but does not have an India office. This might be one of the reasons why the response may have been poor. Facebook and Google having agreed to remove the content however does not mean that they will let the Government dictate what to remove and what not to. According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook has said that they will remove material which breaches their terms and conditions. The same applies to Google as it has said that it will work with the Government to help remove the offending content. I feel this is a good and straight forward solution. Hate Speech and panic mongering content directed at one particular minority most definitely goes against the terms and conditions of both the Internet Giants.
Firstpost reports that both Facebook and Youtube had told the Indian Government that most of the ‘offensive’ content originated from neighbouring Pakistan. This also means that since the content has been uploaded in a different country, these services are not really obliged to remove it. I happen to believe that the only way to get somewhere with this is to raise awareness about the truth. Banning, Censoring doesn’t make much sense these days. The flow of information is very difficult to stop. What needs to be done is to have a credible Digital and Social source which informs people and vanquishes panic and rumors officially. Becoming like our other neighbour China, in terms of banning, is not a very desirable thing for a progressive nation and democracy. I suggest that the Government firmly study and establish itself on social media and the Internet and give out information to the people whenever a situation like this happens. Media could also play their part by reporting sensibly and not sensationally. Jumping to sudden conclusions when a situation like this happens is not a wise thing to do. The Government has to learn from this and have a contingency plan if a similar situation arises.
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