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Platform policy along with legal framework sufficiently robust to address fake news, hateful speech: Twitter tells Delhi HC

The statement forms part of the counter-affidavit submitted by Twitter Inc in response to a petition seeking the removal of hate speech and fake news online.

Aditi Singh

Twitter Inc has submitted before the Delhi High Court that its policy along with the existing legal framework is sufficiently robust to address the concerns of fake news and hateful speech. (KN Govindacharya vs UOI & Ors)

The statement forms part of the counter-affidavit submitted by Twitter Inc in response to a petition seeking the removal of hate speech and fake news online.

The petition has been preferred by KN Govindacharya.

To control the menace of fake news and hate speech, the petition also seeks a direction to social media companies to disclose details of their "designated officers".

Twitter has responded by stating that the writ petition is misconceived and is based on an erroneous understanding of the functioning of social media platforms such as Twitter.

Claiming to be only an "intermediary" under Section 2(1)(w) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, Twitter has explained,

Twitter functions as a conduit between the author and reader of a tweet. Twitter, on behalf of its users receives, stores and transmits that electronic record without any prior review of such content. It is the author of the tweet who is the publisher.

Twitter has thus asserted that it does not exercise any control on the composition of the tweets made by users.

"Twitter does not create third-party tweets, nor is it responsible for the content of third party tweets on www.twitter.com.”, it is said.

It has, nonetheless, clarified that the published content is subject to the Twitter User Agreement which includes Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, Twitter Rules and Policies, and all other incorporated policies.

One of these policies is a policy against Hateful conduct which is found at https://help.twitter.com,/en/rules-and-policies/hateful-conduct-policy. This policy along with the existing mechanism available under Section 69-4 (IT Act), Court orders and complaints to Grievance officers is sufficiently robust to address the Petitioner's concerns regarding fake news and hateful speech.
Twitter has asserted.

The Court is also informed that Twitter has a dedicated Grievance Officer in terms of Rule 3(11) of the Information technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 for redressal of grievances including those of fake news and hate speech.

Twitter has also sought to draw a distinction between a "designated officer", whose details are sought by the Petitioner, and a "grievance officer".

Stating that the details of its Grievance Officers are available to all users in public domain, Twitter has argued that there is no legal necessity to disclose ‘Designated Officers’ to public at large.

In response to the Petitioner's application filed in the wake of the 'Bois Locker Room' incident for removal of "illegal groups" from social media, Twitter has contended that the prayer is beyond the scope of the petition.

Twitter has nonetheless asserted that not only does it not allow persons below the age of 13 years to join its platform, it also has policies regarding sensitive media, non-consensual nudity, impersonation, and child sexual exploitation.

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