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Twitter Slow To Remove Unlawful Content: Home Ministry Pulls Up Executives

Twitter Slow To Remove Unlawful Content: Home Ministry Pulls Up Executives

Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba met Vijaya Gadde, Global Head of Legal, Policy, Trust and Safety Lead, Twitter

Gauba asks Twitter to ensure a round-the-clock mechanism for prompt disposal of requisitions of law enforcement agencies

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that fake news is a multi-variable problem and there won’t be one fix

On his maiden visit to India, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been traveling around the country for the last few days— stopping at Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s home as well as Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. While Dorsey has been talking about Twitter’s ongoing fight against fake news, Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba told the company’s executives that the social media platform is “slow” in removing hateful content that can threaten peace.

“It has been noticed that action taken by Twitter for removing/blocking objectionable/unlawful content has been slow in some cases and compliance for removal of unlawful content has been only about 60% even where orders have been issued by the competent authority after following due process of law,” Gauba told Vijaya Gadde, Global Head of Legal, Policy, Trust and Safety Lead, Twitter.

Gauba asked Twitter executives to ensure “a round-the-clock mechanism for prompt disposal of requisitions of law enforcement agencies for deletion/removal of unlawful/objectionable content from their platform”.

The minister also advised Twitter to appoint India-based contact persons for prompt redressal of complaints. This is already a focus for Twitter, which is already looking to hire a country director to head its operations in India.

During the official engagement, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said, “It was impressed upon Twitter representatives that they should improve their system of response to investigations related to legal requests of Law Enforcement Agencies under provisions of Criminal Penal Code and other laws”.

The ministry emphasised that in case Twitter fails to take action, strict legal penal provisions may be invoked to ensure complaints are entertained.

“Specific instances of legal requisitions were shown where Delhi Police had sought for removal of content openly inciting violence where response by Twitter had been neither full nor timely. Specific legal notices issued by the Delhi Police seeking investigation-related information were also shared with them,” the MHA said.

Without sharing details, the Ministry said that objectionable content was posted on Twitter in the recent past which had the potential to disrupt public peace and order and incite communal violence.

It believes that the action was taken in some cases for removal of such contents from public access, on the intervention of MHA and Delhi Police.

To add to Twitter’s woes, the company’s former India head Taranjeet Singh, resigned from his post in September. His exit from the platform was reportedly said to be due to weak advertising revenue for nearly three and a half years.

Twitter in India is speculated to have 30 Mn- 33 Mn users, out of nearly 350 Mn users globally. To be noted, amid massive restructuring in 2016, CEO Jack Dorsey was said to have de-prioritised India as a market, despite being at a peak in 2013-2014. The decision was taken in order to prevent global revenue growth from stagnating.

Here’s a quick update on Dorsey’s visit to India:

  • Congress chief had tweeted after the meeting with Jack Dorsey, “Twitter has grown into the most dominant ‘conversation’ platform globally. Jack explained some of the steps being taken to keep those healthy and measures being taken to tackle the menace of fake news.”
  • While in IIT Delhi, Dorsey dropped a hint about the much-awaited Edit feature to join the club for Twitter, however, it would be in the right way, so as to alter minor mistakes and not the crucial information/comments shared with the public
  • Talking about fake news, Dorsey emphasised that the company needs to identify misleading information and try to make sure Twitter is not used as a medium to spread it.
  • “Fake news is a multi-variable problem and there won’t be one fix. We will have to stay ten steps ahead. There will be a lot of technologies to help us but there can’t be a perfect solution to this,” Dorsey said.

With the standard meeting with Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad lined up for Dorsey— Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai, WhatsApp’s Chris Daniels have all met the IT Minister and discussed the  the rising amount of fake and misleading news — how Twitter deals with this widespread problem remains to be seen.

[The development was reported by ET.]