The government welcomes criticism and genuine requests for help as well as suggestions in the collective fight against COVID-19, but it is necessary to take action against users who misuse social media to spread panic and misinformation, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said on Sunday.
MeitY said that it asked social media platforms Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to remove over 100 posts and URLs "to prevent obstructions in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic and escalation of public order due to these posts".
"In view of the misuse of social media platforms by certain users to spread fake or misleading information and create panic about the COVID-19 situation in India by using unrelated, old and out of the context images or visuals, communally sensitive posts and misinformation about COVID-19 protocols, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on the recommendation of Ministry of Home Affairs has asked social media platforms to remove around 100 posts or URLs. This decision has been taken to prevent obstructions in fight against the pandemic and escalation of public order due to these posts," the statement read.
"It is pertinent to mention that at a time, when the entire country is putting up a brave and honest effort to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, certain people are misusing social media to create panic in the society. Government welcomes criticisms, genuine requests for help as well as suggestions in the collective fight against COVID-19, but it is necessary to take action against those users who are misusing social media during this grave humanitarian crisis for unethical purposes," it added.
Earlier, a Twitter spokesperson had informed that tweets that advance harmful, false or misleading narratives about COVID-19 vaccinations would continue to be removed from the platform. "...We will label or place a warning on tweets that advance unsubstantiated rumours, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines. Tweets which advance harmful false or misleading narratives about COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to be removed," the spokesperson had said.
However, critics alleged that the government asked social media platforms to remove posts critical of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.