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Social media cos blocked 1,662 links by govt demand since 2016

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, along with other online platforms, took down 1,662 posts on demand from the central government since 2016, the government revealed in response to a Parliamentary question.

Such content is taken down under Section 69A of the IT Act, which requires intermediaries (such as social media platforms) to take illegal content down after being made aware of it. While 1,662 posts were taken down, the companies did not block 584 links that were requested to be blocked. This is not an exhaustive number — the central government did not include instances of states asking for content to be taken down – such as the Haryana Police’s (successful) request to Twitter to withhold the account of godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Interestingly, the number of successful blocking requests to Facebook seem to have exceeded the number in 2017 already — by June 2018, almost 500 links were taken down on the site, with 457 being taken down in all of 2017. While particulars are not available for Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr, Twitter proactively discloses takedown requests on LumenDatabase.org.

Private sector exceeds

Judicial takedowns have already exceeded the government’s count — at least in number of URLs. Last month, a single interim order obtained by PepsiCo from the Delhi High Court got thousands of posts taken down. That order was obtained to protect the reputation of Kurkure, PepsiCo’s packaged corn puff snack. The company had obtained a similar order for Lay’s, another one of its products.

Court orders can also get entire accounts blocked in India. The Bombay High Court’s Nagpur bench ordered Twitter and Facebook to take down “Unofficial Bombay High Court”, a parody page that posted dictats. The Twitter page is still viewable if users have their country set to something other than India.

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