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Hate speech: EC asked social media platforms to remove content in 130 cases, government says

The government told parliament on Thursday that the electoral commission had asked social media platforms to remove content relating to 130 cases of hate speech since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

In a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Union Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju said that while no such cases had been recorded in the state polls of the Jharkhand (2019) and Bihar (2020), 58 cases were recorded during the Lok Sabha Polls.

Thirty-four cases were recorded in the Delhi Assembly polls held in 2020, while 29 cases were recorded in the 2021 polls in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry. Only one case was recorded in Assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana in 2019, while eight cases were recorded in Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh this year.

The minister also said that no complaints had been received by the Electoral Commission from political parties regarding data leaks during elections in the past five years.

The government said the Election Commission and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) had drawn up a mutually agreed “voluntary code of ethics” for the 2019 general election.

“The code was developed to ensure the free, fair and ethical use of social media platforms and to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. The intermediary platforms have also pledged to assume their share of responsibility for voter education and outreach. The ECI, pursuant to the “Voluntary Code of Ethics”, has ordered several social media platforms to remove content (links, videos, messages, tweets) deemed objectionable in accordance with various provisions of the Moral Code of Conduct, the Representation of the People Act, Indian Penal Code and other election laws during elections,” the government said.

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