After Meta sued in US over child exploitation, Rajeev Chandrasekhar says ‘days of free pass are over’

On Tuesday, more than 30 US States filed a lawsuit against Meta Platforms over the allegations of using features on Instagram and Facebook to lure children to these platforms and get them hooked on harmful content. Following closely on the heels of that, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar has reacted and said that social media platforms will have to be more accountable for the content that circulates there. He also highlighted that these platforms must ensure they do not cause harm to Indian citizens.

In an interview with NDTV, the Electronics and Information Technology minister said, “It is important for (social media) platforms to be much more accountable and responsible for what they do, what content they host, and who they allow on their platform to host such content”. He further added, “I think the days of free pass and immunity to (these) platforms are over”.

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Rajeev Chandrasekhar addresses the Meta lawsuit issue

Meta’s lawsuit has been filed in the northern district of the State of California in the District Court, and the case will now assess whether violated consumer protection laws by unfairly endangering children and misleading users about the standard of safety on the platforms.

“PM Narendra Modi ji, two years ago, laid out the basic principles in terms of how do we need to look at the internet, how we need to look at tech in general…Certainly, it is clear now that there are harms also prevalent on the internet. There are issues of addiction, user harm, and exploitation…We have taken the view that safety, (accountability), and trust for our digital nagriks is a policy priority,” said Chandrasekhar on how India is ensuring that social media platforms do not have a similar impact on the children.

On the question of whether a tightening of rope is required for social media platforms, the IT Minister said, “I think it is absolutely necessary that as we move forward and more Indians come online…it is important for the platforms and the government to work in a non-adversarial way in a partnership to ensure that the platforms must not have child sexual abuse material and misinformation”.

A Meta spokesperson has expressed disappointment over US policymakers taking this route, highlighting Meta has “already introduced over 30 tools to support teens and their families” and shares a similar commitment as the attorney general to “providing teens with safe, positive experiences online”.

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