On Wednesday, a plea was filed in the Apex Court seeking directions to weed out fake social media accounts alleging that they promote communalism, radicalism, separatism, etc & is one of the root causes of riots & recent Delhi violence.
The special leave petition (SPL), filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, is challenging a Delhi HC order dated Dec 9, 2019, pertaining to linking social media accounts with proper identity proof.
The High Court of Delhi had dismissed the plea observing that to do a small good, by weeding out fake, ghost or duplicate accounts, the majority of genuine account holders data will be at stake.
The plea stated that while passing the impugned order the HC failed to appreciate that presently a total number of Twitter handles in India are around 35 million & the total number of FB accounts are 350 million, & according to experts around 10 percent of them are duplicate, bogus or fake.
It said that the court also failed to appreciate that there are hundreds of fake twitter handles & bogus Facebook accounts in the name of eminent peoples & high dignitaries including the President of India, Vice President of India, Prime Ministers of India, Chief Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Chief Justice of India & the Judges of the Top Court and High Courts, etc.
According to the petition, these fake Twitter & Facebook accounts use real photos of constitutional authorities & eminent citizens & therefore, common man relies upon the messages published from these Twitter & Facebook accounts.
It added that “The court also failed to appreciate that fake news is the root cause of many riots including the recent riots in Delhi. Fake accounts are used to promote casteism, communalism, regionalism, linguism, radicalism, & separatism, which endangers fraternity unity & national integration”.
The plea said that the right to know is an integral part of Article 19 & exposure to accurate information is a necessity for electors to make an informed choice, but, fake news has a tendency to influence this choice in a negative manner.
It said that “Publication of fake news involves the use of black money, under-reporting of election expenses & indulging in other kinds of malpractices. The influence of black money also has the potential to result in an imbalanced election between people of different financial statures”.
It said that in order to have free & fair elections, which is a basic dictum of democracy, the level playing field is paramount & this cannot be achieved without weeding out fake social media accounts