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India wants Google, Facebook, and Twitter to take 'tougher action' on fake news

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What you need to know

  • Indian authorities are reportedly unhappy with Google, Facebook, and Twitter for not "proactively removing" fake news.
  • India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) said that the Big Tech's inaction had forced it to order content takedowns.
  • Google executives have suggested that the ministry avoid making takedown decisions public to "protect" its public image.

Officials from India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) held "heated discussions" with executives from Google, Twitter, and Facebook at a virtual meeting earlier this week, according to Reuters. Executives from Indian content-sharing platforms ShareChat and Koo were also present in the meeting.

Per the report, Indian officials criticized Big Tech for not doing enough to remove "fake news" stories from their platform. The officials also said that the inaction of Big Tech was "forcing" the Indian government to issue takedown orders, which has negatively affected its public image.

Google executives reportedly advised I&B officials not to make their takedown decisions public to ensure its public image isn't damaged by such orders. Describing it as a "win-win for both sides," the executives added that Big Tech could work together with the Indian government and act on the "fake content."

Government officials, however, rejected the idea and said that "the takedowns also publicize how the companies weren't doing enough to tackle fake news on their own."

India's I&B ministry has used its "emergency powers" to block 55 channels on YouTube since December last year. The Indian government claimed that the channels were blocked as they were promoting "anti-India" content and misinformation was being spread online by accounts based in Pakistan. It also ordered the blocking of a few Twitter and Facebook accounts using the same powers.

A report published by Comparitech in October revealed that India submitted the highest number of content removal requests after Russia. Of the 97,631 removal requests submitted by India, nearly 76% were directed toward Facebook.

Babu Mohan
Babu Mohan