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Friday, February 3, 2023

Govt weighs tightening IT rules to halt blacklisting

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The government can look at strengthening the amended information technology (IT) Rules to deter social media platforms from shadow-banning user accounts to make their posts less or no longer visible, said Rajeev Chandrashekhar, minister of state for electronics and information technology, terming the findings as shocking and attempt to weaponize misinformation.

“We are absolutely determined to make the internet a safe and trusted place for all of our digital nagriks (citizens). If our rules, as amended today, deliver on that because the platforms recognize the intention of the government to do that, so be it. But if the rules do not, then we will have to do something else,” he said.

Chandrashekhar added that the government would consider the unfolding events and that discussions around such issues could be included in the upcoming Digital India Act, which will be put up for public consultation soon.

The minister was responding to the Twitter Files Part Two revelations by independent journalist Bari Weiss, which showed that the social media giant was secretly “blacklisting” some tweets and accounts of users without their knowledge, and how the company used “visibility filtering” to effectively “shadow ban” users to limit the visibility of tweets on the platform. It showed that the platform was not only actively involved in figuring out whose content went there but actively involved in shaping the emphasis of conversations.

“Twitter was playing God against the ethos of any liberal democracy,” he said.

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