New Delhi, May 25: A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader has filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court to weed out fake social media accounts.
Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay has challenged the order of Delhi High Court, whereby it denied to issue any directions on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by him for Linking of Aadhaar Card, PAN Card and Voter ID Number with Social Media Accounts so that Fake, Ghost and Duplicate Accounts can be weeded out.
Citing experts, the SLP says that around 35 million Facebook accounts and 3.5 million Twitter handles in India are duplicate/ bogus/ fake.
“The HC failed to appreciate that there are hundreds of fake twitter handles and bogus Facebook accounts in the name of eminent peoples and high dignitaries including the Hon’ble President of India, Vice President of India, Prime Ministers of India, Chief Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Chief Justice of India and the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts,” added the SLP.
“These fake twitter handles and Facebook accounts use real photo of constitutional authorities and eminent citizens. Therefore, the common man relies upon the messages published from these twitter handles and Facebook accounts.”
The SLP says that the Delhi High Court also failed to appreciate that fake news is the root cause of many riots including the recent riots in Delhi.
“Fake accounts are used to promote casteism, communalism, regionalism, linguism, radicalism and separatism, which endanger fraternity unity and national integration. Political parties and candidates use fake social media accounts for self-promotion and image building and to tarnish the image of opponent political parties and contesting candidates, especially during the elections,” said Upadhyay in the SLP.
He also pointed out that right to know is an integral part of Article 19 and exposure to accurate information is a necessity for electors to make an informed choice, but, fake news has the tendency to influence this choice in a negative manner.
“Publication of fake news involves the use of black money, under-reporting of election expenses 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 statures. Thus, in order to have free and fair elections, which is a basic dictum of democracy, a level playing field is paramount and this cannot be achieved without weeding out fake social media accounts”.
The BJP leader stressed upon the fact that paid news and fake news is a widespread phenomenon during election campaigns.
“This phenomenon of ‘paid news’ and its equivalent, political advertising being presented as news are issues that cannot be treated separately. The Press Council of India in its report on paid news had recommended that Paid News and Fake News should be declared a corrupt practice. General public attaches great value to the news reports as distinguished from advertisements and paid news by political parties and candidates. This makes news items a very important source of information concerning political parties and candidates.”
The BJP leader said that weeding out fake news will prove to be extremely useful in addressing the existing issues and challenges.