In the wake of rumors that have created panic among people from the Northeast, social media like Facebook and Twitter on Friday came under sharp focus in Parliament with demands for putting control on the social networking sites.
Members in both Houses of Parliament alleged that the social networking sites were being used to spread wrong, distorted and provocative content.
Kunal Kumar Ghosh (Trinamool) said in the Rajya Sabha that the social networking sites were largely responsible for creating panic in parts of the country following the Assam incident.
“...in this era of information technology, while we have made progress in many fields, many irresponsible people deliberately use the social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and emails to project a distorted picture of the incidents among the people,” Ghosh said participating a discussion on Assam violence.
“I would appeal to all of you to let us preserve the freedom of speech, but at the same time, we must also put immediate control over rumor-mongering activities enacted through sites like Facebook, Twitter and blogs,” he said.
Ghosh said it would not be prudent to allow an individual to be left free to spread the seeds of poison and create anarchy in other parts of the country using social networking sites.
“I believe all political parties and people irrespective of caste and creed are united over this issue,” he said.
Incidentally, in West Bengal, which is ruled by Trinamool Congress, two persons, including a professor, were arrested recently for posting online a cartoon allegedly derogatory of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Brajesh Pathak of the Bahujan Samaj Party said rumors are being spread through social media forcing students and workers from the Northeast region to leave their studies and jobs in places like Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and other cities. He also demanded a probe to find out the social media platforms indulging in such anti-social activities.
In the Lok Sabha, Baijyayant Panda of the Biju Janata Dal said people were being provoked through the Internet and it should be stopped immediately.
Sanjiv Naik of the Nationalist Congress Party said “wrong information” is being spread that a large number of people from the Northeast are moving out from Mumbai and this should be stopped and demanded removal of a film clip being shown on YouTube about violence by the Northeast people.
Similarly, on social media site Facebook a lot of wrong information is being spread, he said. “Ninety percent of such messages are wrong,” he added.
Given the mood of the members, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told the Lok Sabha he would ask all states to take preventive action wherever necessary. He said he had asked the director of Intelligence Bureau to trace the source of the SMSes and content on Internet sites like Facebook and YouTube that appeared to be the cause for panic among people of Northeast in various parts of the country.