Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, during a press briefing on new rules for social medial, on Thursday said that under the Code of Ethics for online news and digital media entities, publishers of news on digital media will be required to follow the journalistic conduct of the Press Council of India and the programme code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act. This will provide a level-playing field to all media platforms, including print, TV and digital media, the governmnet said.
The government said these norms will put a stop to "fake news", which are prevalent on digital news media. "Of late, some very disturbing developments are observed on the social media platforms. The persistent spread of fake news has compelled many media platforms to create fact-check mechanisms," the Centre said.
As per the government, there was a widespread demand to frame a legal framework for digital news media. "There was a calling attention motion on the misuse of social media and spread of fake news in the Rajya Sabha and the minister had conveyed to the house on 26/07/2018, the resolve of the government to strengthen the legal framework and make the social media platforms accountable under the law. He had conveyed this after repeated demands from the Members of the Parliament to take corrective measures," a government statement said.
The new rules will establish a "soft-touch self-regulatory architecture and a Code of Ethics and three-tier grievance redressal mechanism" for news publishers and OTT Platforms and digital media, the government said.
To tighten the noose around social media and OTT platforms, the government has introduced new guidelines under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021. These guidelines will regulate social media and OTT platforms to ensure transparency, accountability, and the rights of users, the government said.
The ministry highlighted that there are over 161 crore users on major social media platforms including Whatsapp, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. And while it welcomes social media platforms to do business in India, it also stressed the need to follow the Constitution and laws of India.