Telangana Govt to Crack Down on Social Media Admins for Fake News
The Telangana govt said spreading fake news about COVID-19 may attract imprisonment up to a year along with a fine
The Telangana government on Monday said that it would take strict action against those who were spreading false information that could induce panic, amid the shutdown in the state to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stating that people were increasingly depending on social media apart from conventional media for information, the state government said, "As the coronavirus has spread at an alarming pace, very limited information is available from competent authorities and agencies. This has led people to spread fake news, misinformation and rumours – some out of sheer ignorance and others with mischievous and malafide intentions."
"Ironically, spreading of fake news, misinformation and rumours has become another pandemic posing a great challenge for the Governments so much so that the World Health Organisation (WHO) calling the phenomenon an Infodemic," the statement by Dileep Konatham, Director, Digital Media, IT Electronics & Communications (ITE&C) Department added.
Asking citizens to be responsible while sharing information and exercise restraint, the state government said that "admins of Digital Media platforms like WhatsApp will be held responsible and will be tried as per law if any of the member(s) of the group indulges in publicising fake news/misinformation/rumours."
Forwarding misinformation is not only unethical, but also illegal, the state government said.
“Spreading fake news, misinformation or rumours in times of national disasters may attract imprisonment up to one year along with a fine under relevant sections of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. Such acts of spreading fake news is also a punishable offence under Section 505 of Indian Penal Code under the ground that they will cause fear or alarm to the public,” the statement said.
The Telangana government has already invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 which states that people indulging in spreading unauthenticated information will be booked under various provisions of the law.
Six people from Telangana who attended a religious congregation in Delhi's Nizamuddin died due to the novel coronavirus, the state government said on Monday.
(This article has been republished in an arrangement with The News Minute)
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