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Does the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have power to censor social media content?

A newly proposed amendment to the IT Rules, 2021, requires social media platforms to refer to fact-checks carried out by PIB and ensure the flagged content is not shared by users.

Earlier this month, the Press India Bureau Fact Check Unit, which falls under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, published a press release stating that it has "busted six YouTube channels which were working in a coordinated manner and spreading false information in India." The press release added that "the Fact Check Unit released six separate Twitter threads having over 100 fact-checks to counter the fake news spread by these channels." Here's an example of one such fact-check thread put out by PIB: https://twitter.com/PIBFactCheck/status/1613420716740972546?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1613420716740972546%7Ctwgr%5Eef191525e8cedf4362bdb661f2f39a48c5d1dd23%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpib.gov.in%2FPressReleasePage.aspx%3Futm_campaign%3Dfullarticleutm_medium%3DreferralPRID%3D1890650utm_source%3Dinshorts   But that's as far as PIB could go: publish tweets fact-checking these videos and issue a press release about the same. The bureau didn't have any powers to ask YouTube to remove the flagged content and the platform wasn't expected to do the same on its own either. But this might soon change. India's IT Ministry on January 17 proposed an amendment [3(1)(b)(v)] to the IT Rules, 2021, that will require social media platforms to make "reasonable efforts" to not display any information that is identified as fake or false by Press India Bureau's (PIB) Fact Check Unit or any other agency authorised by the Central Government for fact-checking. If the amendment goes ahead, essentially it means that social media platforms will be required to refer to fact-checks carried out by PIB (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) and ensure the flagged content is not shared by their users. How might this process work? PIB will fact-check content and share the same on Twitter under its official handle and…

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