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Telangana puts fake news peddlers on notice

Our Bureau Hyderabad | Updated on March 30, 2020

Says, it’ll invoke Acts to hand out harsh punishments

With the fake news peddlers spreading rumours about Covid-19 outbreak and number of deaths, the Telangana government has cautioned that it would invoke relevant laws to book cases and have their digital accounts removed if found violating the norms.

In an advisory to the general public, admins of social media groups, and print, electronic and online media, the State Government said only verified and authentic information should be shared. It said revealing health condition and names may breach privacy of such individuals.

“As the Coronavirus has spread at an alarming pace, very limited information is available from competent authorities and agencies. This has led people to the spread fake news, misinformation and rumours – some out of sheer ignorance and others with mischievous and mala fide intentions,” Dileep Konatham, Director of Digital Media (Information Technology and Communication Department, Govt of Telangana), said.

Stating that spreading of fake news, misinformation and rumours has become another pandemic, he asked people in social media to be responsible while sharing information that they receive on digital media platforms.

“The admins of digital media platforms like WhatsApp will be held responsible and will be tried as per law if any of the member(s) of the group indulges in publicising fake news or misinformation or rumours,” he said.

Legal provisions

He said spreading fake news, misinformation or rumours in times of national disasters may attract imprisonment up to one year along with fine under Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

They also attract punishments under Section 505 of Indian Penal Code for causing fear or alarm to the public and induce them to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility.

Epidemic law

He said dissemination of unverified information would attract provisions of the Section 10 of the Telangana Epidemic Diseases (Covid-19) Regulations, 2020 (framed under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897).

Asking the people to constantly check the official handles and accounts for authentic information, he pointed out that certain online editions of some of the mainstream media, web magazines, online news sites are carrying sensational, misleading and panic-inducing stories.

Some of the YouTube channels are posting videos with misleading thumbnails. “In many cases, the thumbnail and the actual content of the video do not match thereby confusing the citizen and distorting the information,” he observed.

Published on March 30, 2020

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