New Delhi, July 27: Union Minister for Law and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad took to Linkedin to put out his statement in the Rajya Sabha on the issue of the misuse of social media platforms to spread rumours. Some MPs had given a notice on calling attention motion that sought to draw attention to the issue and Prasad was responding to the same on Thursday. (Aadhaar Data Cannot be Hacked, Says Prasad)

Prasad told the Rajya Sabha that social media platforms are being abused for “weaponisation of information against India’s strategic interest and economic stability”. “But the government is committed to deter such action,” he said. He added that after the government issued notice to WhatsApp, the company reduced the number of forwards to five. “It now plans to remove the forward button and also bring fact-checking and fake news verification mechanism,” Prasad said.

He added that the government had issued a second notice issued to WhatsApp and it was conveyed to them at the highest level that it was equally their responsibility to come up with technical solutions when a harmful message was in wide circulation on the same day in a particular area on a particular issue. About data breach  by Cambridge Analytica, Prasad told the Rajya Sabha, “Notices were issued to the two companies (CA and Facebook) and their response sought.  Facebook responded that they will streamline their internal processes regarding handling of personal data. They stated that the case of Cambridge Analytica it was a case of breach of trust.

He said the government planned to promote initiatives to increase awareness among the citizens to become adept in noticing fake news. “The government will strengthen the legal framework to ensure that social media and instant messaging service providers targeting Indian users do not deprive them of the right to hold proceedings in India and protecting Indian laws,” he said. As far as compliance by social media sites was concerned, the Minister said that by June 2018, Facebook had blocked 499 urls, Youtube 57 urls, Twitter 88, Instagram 25 and Tumblr had blocked 28 urls.

The Government was mulling over a grievance officer in India for social sites who could act as the point of contact for all communication. The duty of such grievance officer should cover not only to receive grievances on real time basis but also to inform law enforcement agencies, he said.