Delhi HC, Facebook, twitter, google and Instagram
Delhi HC, Facebook, twitter, google and Instagram
Litigation News

Delhi HC issues notice in plea seeking removal of illegal groups from social media platforms for safety and security of children

Aditi Singh

The Delhi High Court today issued notice in a plea seeking a direction to the Central Government to direct social media platforms to remove illegal groups for the safety and security of children in cyberspace.

The application preferred by KN Govindacharya (Applicant) forms part of a pending writ petition concerning the removal of fake news and hate speech from social media platforms.

Notice to the Central Government, Facebook India Online Services Pvt Ltd, Twitter India Pvt Ltd and Google India Pvt Ltd was issued by a Division Bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal.

The Applicant has asserted that social media companies have failed to perform their obligations and incidents like the 'Bois Locker Room' episode, were "only the tip of the iceberg" which were causing a "big shockwave in the students, schools and society".

That the incident of 'Bois Locker Room' over Instagram shows one of the vilest forms of social media. It is submitted that presence of such accounts/groups/content on social media is not about boys or girls, but relates to the overall well-being of juveniles in general.. Social Media companies are direct beneficiaries of fake users,as it increases their advertisement benefits. These fake users are also part of vested groups, who push illegal content to corrupt the minds of innocent children.
the Application reads.

While highlighting the unlawful nature of illegal groups which are not removed by the social media platforms because they bring "huge business profit", the Applicant has submitted that the content of these groups include pornography, nudity, graphic violent content, drugs, child pornography, hate speech, unauthorized commercial transactions etc.

It is added that even in terms of the community standards and terms of agreements of social media companies, viz. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok etc, such groups are illegal.

Accusing the social media platforms of lacking sincerity to remove and block objectionable accounts and content, it is pointed out,

That the culpability of social media companies is also visible from the fact that they have set up a business model of “Influencers”. In fact, there are influencers who are as young as 6 years of age, and children between 6-12 years of age are considered a wholemarket category..the social media companies claim to have employed thousands of content moderators. They also claim to use technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to remove illegal content. Many social media platforms have set up their internal boards, highlighting a parallel adjudicatory process. Yet, Social Media platforms must be held liable under penal provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000 as well as The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO).

The Applicant has also asserted that the illegality of minors having accounts on social media could not be disputed as the High Court, in its order passed in August 2013, had itself held children below 13 years of age could not join social media.

"It is most humbly submitted that it is our collective responsibility to ensure a safe cyberspace for our children.", the Applicant has stated.

Advocate Virag Gupta appeared for KN Govindacharya. The Application was filed by Advocate Gaurav Pathak.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Facebook and Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya appeared for Twitter.

Advocate Aditya Gupta appeared for Google.

Central Government was represented by Standing Counsel Anurag Ahluwalia.

The matter would be heard next on July 14.

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