Social media can be a tricky place to handle as a single message is powerful enough to start a wildfire (metaphorically) that can have a catastrophic impact on the people in the real life. While messages sent on social media can bring people together for a cause, on the flip side, a rumour gone viral can cause riots. Since there are no clear laws for the social media space in our country, accountability is a question that no one has been able to answer clearly.
But all of this is about to change thanks to the order issued by Varanasi District Magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra and Senior Superintendent of Police Nitin Tiwari, according to which any information that is factually incorrect or misleading on a social media group could result in an FIR against the group admin.
“There are several groups on social media which are named on newsgroups and also groups with other names which are propagating news and information which is not authentic. These are being forwarded without cross checking,” the statement said as reported by PTI.
The order further states that the group admin must immediately deny any information on the group which is fake or can cause religious disharmony. And the group member who has shared such an information must be removed from the group. Such messages must also be reported to the nearest police station, so that necessary legal action can be taken against the group member.
However, if the group admin fails to take any action, he (or she) would be considered guilty under the law and strict action would be taken against him (or her). Furthermore, the order states that a case under cyber crime law, Information Technology Act and IPC will be filed in case these guidelines are violated.
It needs to be seen how Varanasi Police is able to implement the order as social media messages does not fall within the jurisdiction of of a district or state.