Remove videos spreading COVID-19 lies: Govt to social media platforms
The government has written to social media platforms TikTok, Helo and Facebook asking them to remove videos circulating on their platforms that allegedly seek to influence Muslims against following Covid-19 containment measures, top officials said.
The government action follows a report submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs last week by open-source intelligence and fact-checking IT firm Voyager Infosec claiming that TikTok, a Chinese origin video-sharing app, is being used as a primary medium to peddle fake information regarding coronavirus. The report pointed to bulk videos on social media platforms inciting Indian Muslims against following safe practices to stem the viral pandemic.
“We have written to Tiktok, Helo and Facebook about the Covid-19 related videos on their platforms which are trying to influence Muslims and asked them to immediately take them down,” a top government official told ET.
The letters addressed to US-based Facebook and China’s Bytedance-owned Tiktok and Helo were sent two days ago, the official said.
Over the previous week, calls to ban China’s TikTok in India has been trending on micro-blogging site Twitter under various hashtags such as #BanTikTokinIndia, #jihad_failata_ TikTok and data_leak _by_TikTok. On Monday, there was a counter campaign on Twitter that was trending with the hashtag TikTok 4 good.
Jiten Jain, director of Voyager Infosec, told ET that his firm spotted the use of TikTok as a primary platform to influence Muslims against practicing social distancing.
“We had analysed around 30,000 videos on social media and found hundreds of videos which had misleading, hate mongering and instigating content, which we flagged in our report to the Ministry of Home Affairs,” he said.
Emails sent by ET on Monday to Facebook and Helo on the government notice remained unanswered.
“We are actively working with the government to support them in their efforts to fight misinformation and proactively also working to elevate credible information related to Covid-19 on our platform,” a spokesperson for TikTok said.
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