MHA Said to Have Banned 35 WhatsApp Groups for Spreading Fake News on Agnipath Scheme
By ANI | Updated: 20 June 2022
The Central government on Sunday banned 35 WhatsApp groups for allegedly spreading fake news on the Agnipath Scheme and the Agniveers, government sources said. The action was taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) amid reports that social media platforms such as WhatsApp were being used for mobilising protests in states like Bihar which grew more virulent on Friday, June 17, when a mob attacked Deputy Chief Minister Renu Devi’s house, besides causing damage to the railway property and disrupting the normal life in a number of districts in Bihar.
As per sources, the Centre has also issued a number 8799711259 for WhatsApp fact-checking.
On June 17, the Bihar government also suspended internet services in 12 of its districts till Sunday and said that the internet was being used to transmit objectionable content in order to spread rumours with an intent to incite the public and cause damage to life and property.
Bihar has been witnessing agitations since June 15, a day after the government came out with the new scheme for recruiting youngsters to the armed forces on a four-year contractual basis after which only 25 percent shall be “regularised” based on the performance assessment by seniors, while the rest will be discharged from service without pensionary benefits.
“In the three days (from June 15 to June 17), around 620 people have been arrested and as many as 130 First Information Reports (FIRs) have been registered in Bihar,” Sanjay Singh ADG, Law and Order, had said earlier on the protests against Agnipath recruitment scheme, adding that “140 people were arrested on Saturday”.
As per the East Central Railway, over 60 trains were cancelled till Saturday and two were terminated due to the prevailing law and order problems and threat perception to the railway property and passengers in Bihar.
Unveiling the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that it was a transformative initiative that would provide a youthful profile to the armed forces. “Under the Agnipath Scheme, Indian youngsters will be provided an opportunity to serve in armed forces as Agniveer,” Rajnath Singh had said.
The Agnipath scheme has been brought to strengthen India’s security. The ‘Agniveers’ will be given a good pay package and an exit retirement package after a service of four years. This move comes in a bid to slash the ballooning salary and pension bills, amid major concerns the move will adversely impact the professionalism, military ethos and fighting spirit of the over 14 lakh strong armed forces.
Notably, Agnipath is a pan India merit-based recruitment scheme for enrolling soldiers, airmen and sailors. The scheme provides an opportunity for the youth to serve in the regular cadre of the armed forces. All those recruited under the Agnipath Scheme will be called ‘Agniveers’.
Agniveers will be enrolled for a service duration of 4 years including the training period. After four years, only 25 percent of the Agniveers will be retained or re-enlisted in the regular cadre based on merit, willingness and medical fitness.
These 25 percent Agniveers will then serve for a full term of another 15 years. The first four years, served under a contract, are not likely to be taken into consideration for the fixation of the final pensionary benefits.
The other 75 percent ‘Agniveers’ will be demobilized, with an exit or “Seva Nidhi” package of Rs. 11-12 lakh, partly funded by their monthly contributions, as well as skill certificates and bank loans for help in their second careers.
Twitter Exits Voluntary EU Disinformation Code but Obligations Remain, EU Commissioner Says
By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 27 May 2023
Twitter has decided to leave the EU’s disinformation code, a voluntary pact that groups together the major social platforms, but “its obligations remain,” EU Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton tweeted Saturday.
Launched in 2018, the EU’s code of practice on disinformation counts nearly three dozen signatories including the giants in the sector such as Meta, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and TikTok.
Twitter leaves EU voluntary Code of Practice against disinformation.
But obligations remain. You can run but you can’t hide.
Beyond voluntary commitments, fighting disinformation will be legal obligation under #DSA as of August 25.
Our teams will be ready for enforcement.— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) May 26, 2023
It also covers smaller platforms, as well as advertisers and fact-checkers and non-governmental organisations.
The code was written by the industry players themselves and contains over three dozen pledges such as better cooperation with fact-checkers and not promoting actors distributing disinformation.
“You can run but you can’t hide. Beyond voluntary commitments, fighting disinformation will be legal obligation under DSA (digital services law) as of August 25,” he wrote.
“Our teams will be ready for enforcement,” he warned.
Since buying the social network six months ago, billionaire Elon Musk has relaxed the moderation of problematic content, which appears to have amplified the voices of notorious propagators of disinformation on the platform.
“If (Elon Musk) doesn’t take the code seriously, then it’s better that he quits,” a European Commission official had told AFP on Friday.
Twitter Says Indian Among Top 5 Countries That Sought Account Information of Users in First Half of 2022
By ANI | Updated: 27 April 2023
India was among the top requesting countries to remove content from Twitter last year, the popular microblogging platform said in a blog post. On Tuesday, Twitter shared data on its health and safety efforts and said it received approximately 53,000 legal requests to remove content from governments across the globe from January 1 to June 30, 2022.
The top five requesting countries seeking account information were India, the US, France, Japan, and Germany.
“Twitter continues to take action on content that violates our Rules and protects users’ rights in response to government legal requests,” the blog read.
During the January-June 2022 period, Twitter required users to remove 6,586,109 pieces of content that violated its norms, an increase of 29 percent from the second half of 2021.
Twitter said it took enforcement action on 5,096,272 accounts during the period, a 20 percent increase and 1,618,855 accounts were suspended for violating the rules, which is an increase of 28 percent.
The contents that were removed or accounts suspended relate to abuse/harassment, child sexual exploitation, hacked materials, hateful conduct, impersonation, non-consensual nudity, perpetrators of violent attacks, private information, promoting suicide or self harm, sensitive media, terrorism/violent extremism, and violence.
“We intend to share more about our path forward for transparency reporting later this year,” according to the blog post.
Twitter Blue Subscribers’ Verified Accounts Are Now ‘Prioritised’, Elon Musk Says
By Agencies | Updated: 25 April 2023
Twitter CEO Elon Musk has made an important announcement regarding the accounts which are blue tick verified. The changes which Musk has made on Twitter after his takeover have been wide-ranging. Adding another pointer to his updates is about getting verified accounts prioritised. The information came on Tuesday as Elon Musk tweeted, “Verified accounts are now prioritised”.
Due to the recent development, several celebrities have lost their verified blue ticks from their Twitter accounts. As multiple accounts have started paying, the announcement will definitely motivate others to join the bandwagon.
The blue tick served as a way of protecting well-known individuals from impersonation and tackling false information.
“On April 1st, we will begin winding down our legacy verified program and removing legacy verified checkmarks. To keep your blue checkmark on Twitter, individuals can sign up for Twitter Blue,” Twitter said in a post in March.
Twitter first introduced the blue check mark system in 2009 to help users identify that celebrities, politicians, companies and brands, news organizations and other accounts “of public interest” were genuine and not impostors or parody accounts. The company didn’t previously charge for verification.
Musk launched Twitter Blue with the check-mark badge as one of the premium perks within two weeks of the company’s takeover last year.
Over the weekend, Twitter restored verification badges on several high-profile celebrity accounts with millions of followers, just days after the microblogging platform culled the legacy blue checkmarks for non-paying users.
The move assumes significance as Indian celebrities and top politicians from Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi lost verified blue ticks on their Twitter accounts this week after Elon Musk-led microblogging site started removing checkmark icons from accounts that did not pay a subscription fee.
The coveted blue ticks have now made a surprising comeback on accounts of these celebrities. Top cricketers such as Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli who lost the blue tick mark on their Twitter handles, have also got them back.
Meta Lays Off Engineers, Adjacent Tech Teams as Employees Express Frustration With Job Cuts
By Reuters | Updated: 20 April 2023
Meta Platforms on Wednesday carried out another round of job cuts, this time hitting engineers and adjacent tech teams, as Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg further moved to streamline the business in a bid to make 2023 a “year of efficiency.”
Meta in March became the first Big Tech company to announce a second round of mass layoffs, which it said would take place in three main batches over several months and impact 10,000 employees.
Wednesday’s cuts, though expected, prompted expressions of frustration from Meta employees. Layoffs were the subject of the most popular questions posted on an internal company forum on Wednesday ahead of an upcoming employee town hall.
“You’ve shattered the morale and confidence in leadership of many high performers who work with intensity. Why should we stay at Meta?” read one question seen by Reuters.
The question references comments Zuckerberg made last year urging employees to work with more “intensity” to meet the Facebook and Instagram parent company’s business challenges.
The company declined a Reuters request for comment.
Meta’s first round of layoffs in the fall hit more than 11,000 employees, or 13 percent of its workforce at the time, and preceded other major tech companies shedding thousands of employees after a pandemic-led boom in digital advertising and cloud computing.
With the restructuring, Meta is also shelving lower-priority projects and “flattening” layers of middle management.
Investors have rewarded the company for downsizing.
Meta shares have surged about 80 percent this year, outperforming the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite’s 16 percent rise in the period.
The company, which will announce its first-quarter results on April 26, is expected to benefit from a modest pickup in the digital advertising market and regulatory pressure on chief rival TikTok.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
Elon Musk Modifies ‘Government Funded Media’ Label for CBC After Publisher Pauses Twitter Activity
By ANI | Updated: 18 April 2023
Elon Musk on Monday responded to Canada’s public broadcaster’s saying it will pause its activities on Twitter after being labelled as “government-funded media”.
Replying to CBC’s threats, Elon Musk tweeted, “Canadian Broadcasting Corp said they’re ‘less than 70 percent government-funded, so we corrected the label.”
Canadian Broadcasting Corp said they’re “less than 70% government-funded”, so we corrected the label pic.twitter.com/lU1EWf76Zu— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 18, 2023
Earlier, CBC spokesperson Leon Mar said, “Twitter can be a powerful tool for our journalists to communicate with Canadians, but it undermines the accuracy and professionalism of the work they do to allow our independence to be falsely described in this way,” CBC reported.
“Consequently, we will be pausing our activity on our corporate Twitter account and all CBC and Radio-Canada news-related accounts,” he added. Meanwhile, on Twitter, CBC said, “Our journalism is impartial and independent. To suggest otherwise is untrue. That is why we are pausing our activities on @Twitter.” Earlier, BBC and NPR have been labelled as “government-funded media” organisations. The @BBC account – which has 2.2 million followers – is currently branded as government funded. The label has not been given to the BBC’s other accounts, including BBC News (World) and BBC Breaking News, reported CNN. Twitter has not given a definition for what it considers “government-funded media” to constitute. In a statement provided to CNN, the BBC said, “We are speaking to Twitter to resolve this issue as soon as possible. The BBC is and always has been, independent. We are funded by the British public through the licence fee.”
BBC’s branding comes after a row erupted between Musk and the American NPR network after Musk changed NPR’s label to “state-affiliated media” – which effectively suggested the US government could influence its editorial policy and compare it to outlets such as the Kremlin-funded Russia Today.
After being labelled as “Government-funded”, NPR said that it would stop using Twitter at all, New York Times reported.
Isabel Lara, NPR’s chief communications officer, said in a statement, “NPR’s organisational accounts will no longer be active on Twitter because the platform is taking actions that undermine our credibility by falsely implying that we are not editorially independent.” “We are not putting our journalism on platforms that have demonstrated an interest in undermining our credibility and the public’s understanding of our editorial independence,” she added.
Delhi High Court Grants MeitY Time to Detail Steps to Regulate Content on Social Media, OTT Platforms
By PTI | Updated: 17 April 2023
The Delhi High Court has granted time to the Centre to inform it about the steps taken for regulating content on social media and over-the-top (OTT) platforms.
The high court had earlier directed the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) to take steps for stricter enforcement of its rules with regard to the intermediaries, as notified in Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 and make laws or rules as it deemed appropriate.
“Monika Arora, Standing Counsel for Union of India who is present in the court is requested to accept notice on behalf of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology as well as the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, being the ministries of the Government of India concerned with the issue in question. She seeks some time to file reply,” Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma said in an order on April 12.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on April 25.
The high court was dealing with a matter in which it had said framing rules and guidelines to regulate the content on social media and OTT platforms needs urgent attention.
The court had underlined the need for taking seriously the use of vulgar language in public domain and on social media platforms which are open to children of tender age.
Coming down heavily on the language used in TVF web series ‘College Romance’, the high court had said the use of obscenities in the form of foul language degrades women so they may feel victims as the expletives and obscenities refer to women being objects of sex.
The high court’s March 6 verdict had come while upholding an order of the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) asking the Delhi Police to register an FIR against TVF, the show’s director Simarpreet Singh and actor Apoorva Arora under the Information Technology Act.
It had clarified that the direction to register FIR does not include a direction to arrest any of the accused or petitioner.
The court had said the challenge faced by India, as by many other countries, for enacting appropriate law, guidelines and rules to regulate the content on social media and OTT platforms needs urgent attention.
After watching a few episodes of the series, the court had found excessive use of ‘swear words’, ‘profane language’ and ‘vulgar expletives’ were there and the judge had to watch the episodes with the aid of earphones in the chamber, as the profanity of language was such that it could not have been heard without shocking or alarming the people around.
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