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India’s New Fact Checking Unit Not Intended To “Censor Journalism”- Says IT Minister

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According to a federal minister on Friday, the proposed Indian government unit to fact-check stories on social media is not intended to control journalists or will have any effect on media reporting.

Online platforms like Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook and Twitter are required to “make reasonable efforts” to not “publish, share, or host” any information about the government that is “fake, false, or misleading” under a recently updated IT rule.

Press freedom groups vehemently oppose the government-appointed unit, while Rajeev Chandrasekhar, India’s minister of state for IT, stated in an online conversation that it was “not true” that it was intended to “censor journalism.”


A state-run fact-checking body that will have the authority to declare some reports against the government as “fake, false, or misleading” and order its removal from social media was announced by the Indian government on April 6.

The nation has modified its digital regulations so that websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram must remove anything that has been detected as wrong by the fact-checking authority. It is also expected of Internet service providers to ban URLs leading to such content.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar warned that if the platforms don’t comply, they risk losing the safe harbour status that shields them from legal liability related to any content submitted by its users.

The updated guidelines now require intermediaries to refrain from publishing, disseminating, or hosting fictitious, inaccurate, or misleading information about any Central Government business. The Central Government’s Fact Check Unit has been informed of [this] fabricated, false, or misleading information, the government stated in a press release.

Journalists, advocates for internet freedom, and the nation’s opposition parties are all concerned about the government’s decision to enact such regulations without providing any avenue for appeal.

Demand for repeal

The proposal, according to Editors Guild of India, an independent body of journalists, would grant the government “sweeping powers” and have “deeply adverse implications” for press freedom in the nation. The group of journalists expressed their “deeply disturbed” feelings about the amendment in a statement.

The guild also demanded that the government consult with the media and revoke the “draconian” statute.

The action has drawn criticism from several opposition parties in the nation, who compare it to “censorship.”

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