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Social media platforms ordered to remove misleading content within 36 hours

The central government has issued an advisory to major social media companies to identify misinformation, deepfakes and other content that violates rules and remove those within 36 hours after being reported to them, an official statement said on Tuesday.

The development comes after a deepfake video of actress Rashmika Mandanna was found circulating on social media platforms earning criticism from several politicians and celebrities.

Netizens claimed the video has been morphed and the actual video is of an Indian-origin person living in the UK.

“The Centre today issued an advisory to the significant social media intermediaries to ensure that due diligence is exercised and reasonable efforts are made to identify misinformation and deepfakes, and in particular, information that violates the provisions of rules and regulations and/or user agreements,” the Ministry of Electronics and IT (Meity) said in a statement.

Meity in the advisory has directed that social media companies expeditiously take action against the content that is in violation of the rules and regulations well within the timeframes stipulated under the IT Rules 2021, and users are caused not to host such information, content, deepfakes.

“Remove any such content when reported within 36 hours of such reporting and ensure expeditious action, well within the timeframes stipulated under the IT Rules 2021, and disable access to the content or information,” the statement said.

In case of impersonation in an electronic form, including artificially morphed images of an individual, social media companies have been advised to take action within 24 hours from the receipt of a complaint in relation to any content.

“The intermediaries were reminded that any failure to act as per the relevant provisions of the IT Act and Rules would attract Rule 7 of the IT Rules, 2021 and could render the organisation liable to losing the protection available under Section 79(1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000,” the statement said.

Minister of Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar in the statement said that deepfakes are a major violation and harm women in particular.

“Safety and trust of our Digital Nagriks is our unwavering commitment and top priority for the Narendra Modi Government. Given the significant challenges posed by misinformation and deepfakes, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has issued a second advisory within the last six months, calling upon online platforms to take decisive actions against the spread of deepfakes,” Chandrasekhar said.

He said that the government takes the responsibility of safety and trust of all citizens very seriously, and more so about our children and women who are targeted by such content.

“It is a legal obligation for online platforms to prevent the spread of misinformation by any user under the Information Technology (IT) rules, 2021.

“They are further mandated to remove such content within 36 hours upon receiving a report from either a user or government authority. Failure to comply with this requirement invokes Rule 7, which empowers aggrieved individuals to take platforms to court under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC),” the minister said. PTI

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