Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google and many others have revolutionized the way we communicate as a society. These platforms, which are used to chat with friends and families, have a powerful impact on public discourse. Like any other mode of communication, this medium too is susceptible to misuse. People are vulnerable to the content that grabs their attention regardless of its substance. The problem becomes grave when these platforms are used for propaganda or propagation of hate speech and by the terror outfits to spread their message of hate and violence to radicalize the youth. This in turn affects internal security of the country. Several steps have been taken by various countries such as Germany and United Kingdom to combat the menace of hate speech on social media platforms.
- It is verydifficult to trace who is posting such content. Robots can post fake news items. It can morph pictures and video clips to create hatred. Indian masses are more susceptible than the West because of the lower level of education.
- In terms of analyzing what constitutes hate speech and what does not, there is a lack of clarity, which has led to the culprits not being prosecuted properly.
- Hate speech has been covered under 6-7 provisions of IPC in India. Despite best intentions, the government’s actions are often marred by procedural irregularities and overreach.
In India too, this issue has been debated and discussed since the Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of IT Act in March 2015 terming it as open ended, undefined and vague. The Central Government has then set up an expert committee headed by the former Law Secretary and Secretary General of Lok Sabha Mr. T.K. Vishwanathan to propose new laws or amendments to deal with hate speech on internet. According to reports, the Committee has suggested that some sections of IPC, Code of Criminal Procedure and the IT Act should be amended to introduce stringent provisions specifying punishment to deal with cases of hate speech and use of cyberspace to spread hatred and incitement.