By Nishant Arora
NEW DELHI, Oct. 2 (SocialNews.XYZ) As political parties continue to abuse social media platforms to spread propaganda, misinformation and fake news in the absence of a central cyber regulator, industry experts have reiterated the need to create a central cyber – Appoint regulatory authority dealing with Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and others.
Several countries have appointed their own cyber regulators, which separately deal with big tech when they fail to comply with the country’s laws, especially ahead of major elections.
“Propaganda, misinformation and fake news have the potential to polarize public opinion. It is often seen that social media is used to encourage violent extremism and hate speech against political parties, communities and religions, ultimately undermining democracies and reducing trust in the democratic processes,” said Nitin Pandey, Senior Cyber Consultant at UP Cyber Crime, Police Headquarters, to IANS.
Pandey explained that such anti-social elements using bots from paid Twitter users spread misinformation.
“With modern artificial intelligence (AI) tools, it has become very easy to morph and create deeply fake, altered voices, videos and text. And because this news is being spread in such large numbers, many believe it to be true,” he noted.
As India prepares for a major government poll, WhatsApp is being heavily abused by various political parties as well as individual candidates to woo millions of voters via automated mass messaging.
According to experts, IT cells of various political parties are preparing thousands of WhatsApp groups and broadcast lists to reach voters’ smartphones with targeted political messages.
“WhatsApp is a big beneficiary of such unauthorized bulk messaging, despite the strict restrictions placed on conventional campaigns by the Electoral Commission. Influencing and influencing elections in such an unauthorized manner is a crime under the Indian Penal Code and the Representation of People’s Act.” Supreme Court attorney and cyberlaw expert Virag Gupta told IANS.
Pandey said it is very important to provide internet users with a solid education in media and information literacy as part of the curriculum.
“There are various fact-checking platforms available online. Before netizens believe hate or fake news, they should double check content before sharing it,” he told IANS.
Section 66A of the IT Act was enacted to regulate the social media law in India and gains importance as it controls and regulates all legal issues related to the social media law in the country.
The new Information Technology Rules (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics) were announced in February 2021 to increase the accountability of the social media platforms (like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) to prevent their misuse and abuse.
“Political parties and marketing companies have used bots, automation scripts, algorithms and time intervals to circumvent the country’s rules,” Gupta said.
Recently, the Madras Supreme Court ruled that social media companies can also be treated as defendants in criminal cases.
“In this regard, the Electoral Commission must take immediate action against candidates, parties and social media platforms for such systemic and large-scale violations of their laws and rules,” Gupta said.
“Such social media platforms may also face contempt proceedings for violating Supreme Court rules,” he added.