The Hyderabad police recently registered a criminal case against micro-blogging platforms WhatsApp, Twitter and TikTok. The case was on charges of facilitating the spread of hatred and anti-national content on their platforms in the country. Also Read - WhatsApp Dark Mode: WhatsApp Web and Desktop to get a dark theme: Report
The Cyber Crime Police Station registered the case following the direction from a city court on a petition filed by a local journalist. This is believed to be the first case against the leading social media platforms for facilitating the spread of hatred and anti-national content in the country. The petitioner also sought a ban on 42 other apps, which he claimed were working against India. Also Read - ZEE5 prepares to challenge TikTok and Instagram with Hypershots app
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The case against WhatsApp, Twitter and TikTok was registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This includes charges for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc. Also Read - Facebook's Twitter and Instagram accounts hacked, used to post pictures and taunting message
The charges also include acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, conspiracy to wage or attempt to wage war, or abetting waging of war against the Indian government, obscene acts and songs in public, statements conducing to public mischief and criminal conspiracy.
Who is the petitioner?
Silveri Srishailam, the man who filed the petition, seeks action against the three social media apps. The case was filed in the Nampally court and has claimed that over 1,200 groups were created after the protests against CAA, NRC and NPR began in the country, which was spreading anti-national content. Further, Srishailam even claimed that some Pakistanis were members of these groups.
He made Manish Maheswari, Abhijit Bose, and Nikhil Gandhi respondents in the case. Maheshwari is the Twitter India Managing Director. Abhijit Bose is the WhatsApp India head. Further, Nikhil Gandhi is the TikTok head in the country.
When asked, a WhatsApp spokesperson shared an earlier statement that the company cared deeply about the safety of its Indian users. “WhatsApp has made significant product changes and worked with partners across civil society, engaged with relevant government authorities and other technology platforms to help address the harmful consequences of misinformation,” the spokesperson said. Inside sources told IANS that Twitter has not received any information on any such development so far. TikTok said it is looking into the matter.
WhatsApp, Twitter and TikTok user base in India
The three apps put together make up a large chunk of the total social media usage in the country. WhatsApp has 400 million users in India. Further, TikTok has recently crossed 200 million users. According to Statista, Twitter had nearly 35 million active users in India in 2019.
(With input from IANS)