Defender of your Digital Freedom

All Posts | Aug 31,2020

Letter to the Standing Committee on Information Technology on Content Moderation by Social Media Platforms

SFLC.in has written to the Standing Committee on Information Technology chaired by Dr. Shashi Tharoor on the Content Moderation policies of Social Media platforms.

The letter was written in light of the recent allegations that have come forward against social media platform Facebook regarding selectively moderating hate speech in favor of the ruling party on its platform. The Wall Street Journal published an article titled Facebook’s Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politicsthat came out on 14.08.2020 which raises serious concerns about the influence of social media giant Facebook Inc the electoral process in the country.

Through the Letter, SFLC.in has put forward the following requests in front of the committee -

  1. An open hearing with all major social media platforms as well as stakeholders including civil society organizations may be held to discuss the content moderation policies that are implemented by these platforms.
  2. An inquiry into the specific incidents that have been brought to light by the Wall Street Journal article may be conducted. Request to the committee to call for the records including the posts and email/internal communications relating to the alleged incidents from Facebook Inc.and examine them.
  3. An open call to the public to provide evidence about cases where social media platforms have taken a partisan approach in moderating content by favoring a political party or a group.

Civil society organizations like SFLC.in have been relentlessly working for holding social media intermediaries accountable for content moderation. We have published multiple reports in this regard, some of which are -

  1. Intermediary Liability 2.0 : A Shifting Paradigm
  2. The Future of Intermediary Liability in India
  3. Online Harassment: A Form of Censorship

SFLC.in has also offered to assist the committee in any manner deemed fit by it.

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All Posts | Apr 12,2019

Blue Paper – Conference on Future of Tech Policy in India

We organised a Conference on 'Future of Tech Policy in India' on 15 March 2019 in Delhi. Over 150 people participated in the conference. Our report on Intermediary Liability 2.0 - A shifting Paradigm was launched during this conference.


A Blue Paper containing inputs received during this conference is available below. This document does not reflect the views of SFLC.in.


Brief agenda:

  • 09:30 AM to 10:00 AM: Registration

  • 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM: Session 1 - Misinformation and Intermediary Liability

  • 11:30 AM to 11:40 AM: Overview of the Report on ‘Intermediary Liability 2.0: A Shifting Paradigm’

  • 11:40 AM to 11:50 AM: Tea Break

  • 11:50 AM to 01:15 PM: Session 2 - The Role of Social Media in Elections

  • 01:15 PM to 02:00 PM: Lunch

  • 02:00 PM to 03:20 PM: Session 3 - Online Harassment

  • 03:20 PM to 03:30 PM: Tea Break

  • 03:30 PM to 03:50 PM: Lightning Talk on FreedomBox

  • 03:50 PM to 05:00 PM: Session 4 - The Future of Tech Policy

All Posts | Jul 23,2016

Roundtable: Identifying and Limiting Hate Speech and Harassment Online

The advances made possible by the advent of the Internet have impacted the notion of free speech in a great many ways. Online intermediary platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google enable individuals to be active publishers of information in addition to passive recipients. The possibility for anonymity that comes with the Internet adds further value by enabling open discourse and criticism in even the most repressive of regimes. More generally, the Internet has allowed access to information and knowledge that was previously unattainable, thereby contributing to the discovery of truth and the progress of society as a whole.

While the Internet constituted a significant leap forward in terms of enabling borderless free speech, it also raised several complex challenges that called for nuanced approaches to identifying and limiting them. One such challenge is “online hate speech” – a surprisingly broad and contested term that calls into question some of the most fundamental principles on which societies are built. India has witnessed increasing instances of hate-fueled violence of late, with the murder of multiple citizens over conflicting ideals during a spate of strengthened cattle-slaughter laws being the gravest and most recent of the lot. The Internet played a prominent role in propagating hateful sentiments during these periods of tension as it set the stage for aggressive campaigning for and against divisive causes. Moreover, there has been a growing atmosphere of intolerance towards opinions and convictions that stand at odds with those of certain political factions. Online expressions of such opinions are often met with a flurry of hateful, abusive and harassing responses seemingly aimed at intimidating the speakers into silence.

Against this backdrop, we are organizing a roundtable discussion on Thursday, 28th July, 2016, from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi, bringing together relevant stakeholders from the user community, industry, civil society, academia and Government to initiate a discussion around online hate speech and harassment, with special focus on prevalent challenges in limiting such speech online and potential remedies. The roundtable will explore the prevalence of abusive, intimidating and harassing expressions online, existing state and non-state responses, shortcomings of these responses, and potential solutions to these shortcomings. We will also explore the adoption of a Code of Conduct for online speech platforms to effectively tackle hate speech, drawing from a similar set of guidelines that were recently drafted and adopted in the European Union.