Google, Facebook Say Working on India Request to Remove Content
Last update: 8/21/2012 6:07:50 AM
By R. Jai Krishna
NEW DELHI--Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook Inc. (FB) said Tuesday they are working on requests from India to remove from their websites "inflammatory and hateful content" that New Delhi blames for sparking a mass exodus of people from several cities.
Tens of thousands of panic-stricken students and workers from northeast left for home last week, spurred by rumors they would be attacked in retaliation for communal violence in Assam, a northeastern state, that left at least 78 people dead.
India on Monday blocked as many as 245 Web pages for hosting video clips and other content that the authorities said were distorted and were used for spreading the rumors.
The government is wary of social networks being misused for inciting violence and has asked companies including Google, Facebook, Twiter Inc. and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to remove such content from their websites.
Facebook, which has about 50 million users in India, acknowledged receiving the requests and said it is working through those requests and responding to the agencies.
"Facebook will remove content which breaches our terms," as defined in its agreement with its users, it said in a statement.
The U.S.-based company said it is encouraging its users to flag such content through its website "so that we can investigate and take action fast."
Search-engine giant Google, which provides services such as YouTube and Orkut said: "We understand the gravity of the situation... and continue to work closely with relevant authorities."
Content intended to incite violence is prohibited on all Google products, the company said in a statement.
Twitter and Microsoft didn't offer any immediate comments.
According to India, some of these content have been uploaded from outside the country, mostly from Pakistan, and it wants the social-networking sites to take quick action to block them.
"...a lot more and quicker action is expected from them (social-networking sites) to address such a sensitive issue which concern restoring peace, harmony, public order and national security," India's Department of Electronics & Information Technology said in a statement, and added that it is working with these companies to deal with the situation.
India has been pushing Internet firms, especially social-networking websites, to censor content. However, they have refused to do so, citing local information technology laws that protect them from liability for content posted by users.
In a separate case, Google, Facebook and some other websites are facing criminal charges in a New Delhi court for hosting, what Indian authorities call "objectionable content." Senior executives of these companies are scheduled to appear in the trial court on Sept. 22 to face charges in this case.
Write to R. Jai Krishna at firstname.lastname@example.org