According to Reuters, Indian authorities have had heated meetings with Google, Twitter, and Facebook about their failure to proactively remove what they call fake news from their platforms. This is the government’s latest spat with Big Tech.
Officials from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) slammed the companies, claiming that their inaction on fake news was forcing the Indian government to order content takedowns, which drew international criticism that the government was suppressing free speech, according to two sources.
The call was intense and furious, according to people acquainted with the virtual encounter on Monday, signalling a new low in ties between American internet companies and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
At the meeting, the authorities did not offer any ultimatums to the firms, they said.
The government has tightened restrictions in the digital industry, but it wants corporations to do more in terms of content monitoring.
The meeting came after the I&B ministry used “emergency powers” to order the shutdown of 55 YouTube channels, as well as several Twitter and Facebook accounts, in December and January.
The government claimed that the channels were spreading “fake news” or “anti-India” content, with accounts located in Pakistan spreading the misinformation.
The I&B ministry did not react to a request for comment on the meeting, which was also attended by ShareChat and Koo, two Indian content-sharing sites with millions of users.
Facebook, which is now known as Meta, as well as Twitter and ShareChat, have all declined to comment.
It conforms with local regulations, according to Koo, and has strict content filtering policies in place.
According to Twitter’s transparency reports, the Indian government makes among the most requests to delete information from its platform.
India made 97,631 content removal demands in 2020, the second-highest in the world behind Russia, according to the technology website Comparitech, largely to Facebook and Google.