Supreme Court has observed social media platforms like Facebook have mushroomed into power centres with the ability to influence opinions. The top court further stated these platforms need to be accountable and Facebook's "simplistic approach" that it is only a platform posting third-party content without any editorial responsibility (generating, controlling, or modulating content) does not sit well.
"Facebook today has influence over one-third population of this planet! In India, Facebook claims to be the most popular social media with 270 million registered users. The width of such access cannot be without responsibility as these platforms have become power centres themselves, having the ability to influence vast sections of opinions," the top court stated.
The court dismissed a plea filed by Facebook India Vice President and MD Ajit Mohan and others challenging the summons issued by Delhi Assembly's Peace and Harmony committee. The Supreme Court bench comprising Justice SK Kaul, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy mentioned that India cannot afford a repeat of the riots that took place in Delhi last year and emphasised that India's 'unity in diversity' cannot be disrupted and the authorities concerned should investigate Facebook's role in this context.
It also upheld the Delhi Assembly's right to summon and said while the US-based social media platform played a significant role in enabling free speech and providing a means to escape state censorship, it cannot ignore the fact that it has become a "platform for disruptive messages, voices, and ideologies."
"The need to go into this incident (riots) both from a legal and social perspective cannot be belittled. The capital of the country can ill-afford any repetition of the occurrence and thus, the role of Facebook in this context must be looked into by the powers that be. It is in this background that the Assembly sought to institute peace and harmony committee," the SC bench stated.
Edited by Mehak Agarwal; with PTI inputs
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