The government has taken several steps to address the challenges of user harm and hateful information available on social media platforms, Parliament was informed on Friday.
Minister of Electronics and IT Ashwini Vaishnaw, in a written reply (starred question) in the Rajya Sabha, also stated the ministry has taken note of reports based on a whistleblower’s statements about Facebook and its alleged role in circulation of hate speech, fake news and misinformation.
He was responding to a question on whether the government has noticed reports regarding “adversarial harmful networks – India case study” released by the Facebook whistleblower.
“The Ministry has taken note of such news reports based on a whistle blower’s statements regarding Facebook. The whistle blower referred to in such articles has attributed amplification of extreme views to algorithmic promotion,” he said.
The minister stated that these news reports also refer to the apparent bias of significant social media platforms like Facebook for alleged circulation of hate speech, fake news and misinformation and Facebook’s alleged negligence in deployment of adequate algorithmic measures in controlling these unwarranted circulations.
There have been allegations that Facebook’s system fuelled hate speech and fake news after Frances Haugen, an employee of the company’s integrity team until May 2021, leaked tens of thousands of internal documents.
On Friday, Vaishnaw said the government has taken several steps to address the challenges of user harm and hateful information on social media platforms.
In order to ensure accountability of social media platforms to users and enhanced user safety, the government in February notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 under the IT Act, 2000.
These rules require that the intermediaries follow certain due diligence as prescribed, he said.
“MeitY through a program, namely, Information Security Education and Awareness (ISEA), has been creating awareness among users highlighting the importance of following the ethics while using Internet and advising them not to share rumours/fake news.
“A dedicated website for information security awareness provides all the relevant awareness material,” he added.