The Mumbai Police on Sunday issued a directive holding admins of social media handles liable for messages that can cause panic among the public and incite mistrust towards government functionaries in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
“All persons designated as admin on messaging and social media platforms shall be held responsible for any such information being disseminated in a group administered by them,” said the order, triggering a political row.
National in-charge of National Students’ Union of India (student wing of Congress) Ruchi Gupta has tweeted a copy of the order, saying: “Basically a free pass for action against any criticism of the Govt”. Notably, Congress is one of the three allies of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
The order noted that there is “widespread dissemination of fake news, incorrect information, misinformation and other such objectionable content in the form of messages, videos (both edited and self-created), image or memes (both edited and self-created), audio clips and other such forms of communication over internet messaging and social media platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, etc.. Such type of content has found to have caused panic, confusion among the general public, inciting mistrust towards government functionaries and their actions taken to control the COVID-19 pandemic and also to have created animosity towards various communities.”
The order adds, “All persons designated as “Admin” on messaging and social media platforms, either by self or by allowing any member of the group, shall be personally responsible for any such information being disseminated from a group administered by them.”
The order, signed by Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Pranaya Ashok, is the extension of the previous order issued in April, which restricted the spread of misinformation related to COVID-19.
The order comes into force in Mumbai from Monday. It remains in effect till June 8, 2020.
Violators will be booked under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.
(With inputs from timesnownews)