New Delhi, Sep 30 : A public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court seeking to link social media sites including Twitter and Facebook with Aadhaar to weed out duplicate and fake accounts and control fake news.
The plea has been filed by BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who has sought direction to the Central government to take the necessary steps to deactivate duplicate, fake and ghost social media accounts in order to control fake news and paid news.
Seeking to highlight how the fake news has the tendency to influence polls in a negative manner, his plea said: “The publication of fake news involves use of black money, under-reporting of election expenses of political parties and candidates and indulging in other kinds of malpractices. The influence of black money also has the potential to result in an imbalanced election between people of different financial stature.”
Upadhyay said that dictum of democracy is to ensure free and fair elections, and this can be achieved through controlling fake news. He has sought directions to the government, Election Commission and Press Council of India to take appropriate steps to control fake and paid news, particularly when the Model Code of Conduct is in force for any election.
He has also sought to direction to declare publication of paid news and political advertisements during last 48 hours before the poll, a corrupt practice under Section 123(4) of Representation of People Act, 1951.
In his plea, Upadhyay contended that of the around 35 million Twitter accounts and 350 million Facebook account, around 10 per cent are fake. He also mentioned fake Twitter handles of eminent peoples and high dignitaries including the President, Prime Minister and others.
He also highlighted Section 126 of the Representation of People Act prohibits electioneering activities by way of public meetings, public performances, processions advertisements through television, cinematograph, radio or similar apparatus for a period of 48 hours up to the time fixed for conclusion of poll, but “due to lack of clarity, political parties and candidates not only make house-to-house visit but also advertise through radio, newspaper, web portals and Social Media during this period, including on the day of polling”.
“Undoubtedly, a distorted and biased advertisement through social media on the polling day, leaves other candidates with no remedy to undo the damage,” he said in his plea.