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Regulating Social Media: Unrealistic, Impossible, Necessary?

by Prasad Krishna last modified Apr 30, 2013 04:50 PM
The Press Council of India Chairperson Justice Markandey Katju calls for regulating social media, saying it will prevent offensive material coming into the public domain. But is it really necessary to regulate the social media? If yes, is it possible to do it?

This was published by NDTV on April 11, 2013.


NDTV aired a discussion by Ashwin S Kumar, Co-editor, Columnist, The Unreal Times; Kunal Majumder, Assitant Editor, Tehelka.com and Pranesh Prakash, Policy Director, Centre for Internet and Society on April 11, 2013 in response to Justice Katju's comments on bringing 'social media' under the Press Council of India.

Pranesh Prakash laid out four brief points:

  1. 'Social media' allows coffee house discussion and toilet wall scrawls to seem like print publications, but it's a mistake to treat it the same way we do print publications. The UK is now planning on using prosecutorial flexibility to refrain from prosecuting simple offensive speech on social media.
  2. The same laws should apply online as they do offline (but how the apply, can differ), and that is currently the case. Most content-related offences in the IPC, etc., are offences online as well as offline.
  3. Editors and journalists exist for most print publications and broadcast programmes, while that isn't true for most 'social media'. So guidelines applicable to the press mostly won't be applicable online.
  4. Electronic publications (like Medianama, The Daily Dish, Huffington Post) which consider themselves engaged in a journalistic venture present a special problem that we do need to have a public conversation about.

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