The government wants social media companies to delete all posts that defend the killing of Udaipur

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In order to avoid “any incitement and disruption of public order and to restore public peace and harmony,” THE MINISTRY of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has ordered all social media companies to “proactively and immediately” remove all content that encourages, glorifies, or justifies the recent homicide in Udaipur.

The ministry stated in a message distributed on social media platforms that in addition to the films of the murder that were posted online, it has come across several instances in which social media accounts celebrated or defended the homicide. According to the MeitY, social media companies have a responsibility to remove such content as part of their role as intermediaries.

“Through this notice, you are directed to immediately ensure that as part of your obligation of due diligence, safety and trust, you proactively and immediately remove any and all content (whether in the form of a text message, audio, video, photo or any other form) that seems to encourage/glorify/justify this murder and killing,” the ministry stated in its notice to so.

The notification was sent on Wednesday and made available to the public on Friday.

The MeitY’s notification comes days after two men, Mohammad Riyaz and Ghouse Mohammad, fatally macheted Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor in Udaipur, for allegedly sharing comments made by BJP member Nupur Sharma about the Prophet. The two made death threats against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sharma in addition to posting a video of the murder online and bragging about its “beheading.”

A spokesman for Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, responded to questions from The Indian Express by saying, “We have identified the occurrence as violating and are removing any content linked with it in accordance with our community guidelines.”

It has been discovered that when Meta flags an incident as “violating,” it usually means that it will delete any offenders’ accounts as well as any content that glorifies, endorses, or symbolises the attack and the named perpetrators.

An immediate request for comment regarding whether Twitter and Koo had cooperated with the government’s letter received no response.

Due to their status as “intermediaries,” social media businesses have legal protection from third-party content placed on their platform. The corporations must adhere to certain due diligence obligations, which include removing content that has been reported by the government in accordance with Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, in order to maintain their legal immunity. However, Section 69(A) of the IT Act is not applicable to the MeitY’s notice to remove the disputed content.

“The content relating to the killing is particularly upsetting and controversial, hence the ministry unilaterally issued this advisory. “The ministry issued this notice to social media companies because this type of content should not be allowed to be on their platforms,” a government official said. “Due to the volume of content that glorifies or justifies the murder, issuing take-down orders under Section 69(A) would take some time.

Although the regulations governing Section 69(A) of the IT Act require that all blocking orders be reviewed by an empowered committee, they also provide for an exemption in emergency situations, which entitles a designated government officer to issue an interim take-down notice in situations where a delay might not be feasible.