The Indian government has asked Google to review its internal guidelines to automatically remove “fake news”.
What you need to know
- Indian authorities are reportedly unhappy that Google, Facebook and Twitter have not “actively removed” fake news.
- India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) said inaction by big tech companies had forced it to order the removal of content.
- Google executives advised the ministry to refrain from publicizing the takedown decision to “protect” its public image.
Earlier this week, officials from India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) had “heavy discussions” with executives from Google, Twitter and Facebook at a virtual meeting, Reuters reported. Executives from Indian content-sharing platforms ShareChat and Koo were also in attendance.
According to the report, Indian officials criticized big tech companies for not doing enough to remove “fake news” reports from their platforms. Officials also said the inaction of big tech companies is “forcing” the Indian government to issue a takedown order, which is negatively affecting its public image.
Google executives are reportedly advising I&B officials not to make their takedown decisions public to ensure its public image isn’t tarnished by such orders. Executives described it as a “win-win for both parties”, adding that big tech companies could work with the Indian government to take action against “false content.”
Government officials, however, rejected the idea, saying “the removals also show that these companies are not doing enough to deal with fake news on their own.”
India’s I&B Ministry has used its “emergency powers” to block 55 channels on YouTube since December. The Indian government claims the channels are blocked because they are promoting “anti-India” content and Pakistani accounts are spreading misinformation online. It also ordered the blocking of some Twitter and Facebook accounts using the same powers.
A Comparitech report published in October showed that India was second only to Russia in the number of content removal requests submitted. Of the 97,631 takedown requests submitted in India, nearly 76% were directed at Facebook.