Once again the fake news on social media has become a pain point for the Indian government. Despite its several collaborative efforts and other regulatory action to put an end to all misinformation in regards to the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court (SC) of India has asked it to take additional steps to tone down the panic around the issue.
A two-judge bench of the SC, including Chief Justice S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao, told the government to set up a real-time digital portal within 24 hours to disseminate accurate information. The bench highlighted that the panic around coronavirus would end up destroying more lives than the virus itself.
The panel was hearing two petitions related to the migration of migrant workers over a video conference. The apex court also asked the government to stop the migration and take care of their food, shelter, nourishment and medical needs. Besides this, the government will also have to allocate trained counsellors and community leaders to calm down all the migrant workers, who are currently going home on foot.
However, it is important to note that the Indian government has proactively taken steps to end misinformation and promote accurate information.
Advice For Social Media Giants
Last week, the government issued an advisory for all social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more — to ensure quick and effective action against posts spreading misinformation. The government asked the social media platform to prioritise the removal of any such content.
“It has been reported in the media that there is a trend of circulation of misinformation/false news and sharing anonymous data related to coronavirus in various social media platforms creating panic among the public,” Rakesh Maheshwari, group coordinator of cyber laws and e-security at MeitY, said
IT ministry, along with the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW), started a special helpline called MyGov Corona Helpdesk on WhatsApp. Through this, the government is looking to answer people’s queries related to coronavirus.
The users can raise their queries by dropping a WhatsApp message on 9013151515. The chatbot will then send an automated response listing the most commonly asked questions. The users will just have to choose the question they want to get the answers to.
The government has also partnered with Google India to customise India’s search page with the ‘Do The Five. Help stop coronavirus’ campaign. Moreover, the search page would also contain the link to the health ministry’s website highlighting information related to the pandemic. This would include positive cases, locations, and deaths.
Besides this, the government has reportedly been in talks with Facebook to come up with similar solutions. Meanwhile, it has also been exploring all possible tech solutions to deal with the Covid-19 or coronavirus pandemic.