The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on Tuesday proposed a draft rule that would require social media platforms to take down content that has been “fact-checked” by the Press Information Bureau’s fact check unit as false.
Rule 3(1)(b)(v) of the amended version of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 state that platforms “shall make reasonable efforts to cause the user of its computer resource not to” post content that has been “identified as fake or false by the fact check unit at the Press Information Bureau of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting or other agency authorised by the Central Government for fact checking”.
The insertion of the draft condition comes even as the government held discussions with real money gaming platforms on Tuesday, during which industry representatives largely approved of the draft as far as the regulation of wagering platforms was concerned. But this recent addition to the draft is instead focused on social media firms, which will soon be subject to other requirements under the IT Rules, such as being subject to the decisions of a government-appointed Grievance Appellate Committee, which will hear appeals from users whose content or accounts have been taken down, potentially forcing platforms to reinstate users who fall afoul of the platforms’ terms of service.
While the fact check unit of the PIB has debunked several baseless rumours that circulate on social media platforms like WhatsApp and Twitter, the body has also issued denials on behalf of the government in response to news reports by online publications and newspapers alike in the past. In at least one case, the fact check unit has called reporting “false” on the basis of an official response.