In an era dominated by the digital landscape, the Union Government of India has taken a significant step towards preserving the integrity of our online world. On November 7, 2023, the government issued an advisory to major social media intermediaries, addressing the growing challenges posed by misinformation and deepfakes on their platforms. This advisory is not only a response to the evolving digital threats but also a testament to the government’s unwavering commitment to the safety and trust of its digital citizens.

The advisory outlines several key directives that are designed to combat the spread of misinformation and deepfakes. It emphasizes the critical need for due diligence on the part of social media intermediaries in identifying and removing content that violates the provisions of rules and regulations, as well as user agreements. This move is especially relevant in the context of a rapidly changing digital landscape, where deepfakes and false information can spread like wildfire.

Deepfakes are videos or audio recordings that have been manipulated to make it appear as if someone is saying or doing something they never actually said or did. Deepfakes can be used to spread misinformation, damage reputations, and even blackmail people. Social media platforms have a responsibility to combat the spread of misinformation and deepfakes. They have access to vast amounts of data and resources, and they can use this to develop and implement effective detection and removal mechanisms. However, social media platforms have so far been slow to take action on misinformation and deepfakes. In many cases, they have prioritized profits over the safety and well-being of their users.

One of the most significant aspects of the latest advisory is the call for rapid action. The directive specifies that social media platforms must expeditiously address reported content within a 36-hour window. This speedy response aims to curb the damage that such content can cause. Compliance with the Information Technology (IT) Rules 2021 is a crucial part of this advisory. Non-compliance with these rules carries legal consequences, per Rule 7 of the IT Rules. This empowers individuals to seek legal redress, invoking provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Such measures are vital to ensure accountability and deterrence for social media platforms.

In addition to the government’s directives, social media platforms can further educate their users about the perils of misinformation and deepfakes. They can also streamline the process of reporting suspicious content. On the other hand, social media users hold a shared responsibility in combating these destructive phenomena. They can play a pivotal role by being discerning consumers of information, sharing only content they can authenticate as accurate, and promptly reporting suspicious material to social media platforms. By fostering positive online behavior, users can contribute to a safer digital environment.

Awareness of the indicators of deepfakes, verifying the sources of information, using reverse image searches, and reporting deepfakes to the respective social media platforms are vital actions that every digital citizen can take to bolster the collective endeavor against misinformation and deepfakes.

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