The dispute between the central government and social media platforms is not taking its name to stop. The latest case is to delete a post of the government body Press Information Bureau (PIB). In this post, PIB did a fact check regarding the claim of the coronavirus vaccine and deaths associated with it. However, Facebook and Instagram deleted this post of PIB. Later this post was restored on both platforms after the intervention of the government.
What was PIB’s fact check about?: A post shared from PIB’s account fact-checked a claim of the vaccine and further deaths. Actually, posts were floating on social media about false claims of vaccine for a long time. It contained a photograph and purported statement of French Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier. It was said in the post that people who got the coronavirus vaccine are dying within two years.
A large number of people in India were believing this post to be true. In such a situation, the fact-check did by PIB clearly wrote – “A statement is going viral on social media with a photo of the French Nobel laureate regarding the corona vaccine. The statement in the photo is completely false. Corona vaccine is completely safe. Do not forward this photo.”
According to sources, a day after this fact check was posted by PIB, Facebook and Instagram removed it without giving any information. Not only this, Facebook has warned that if it spreads false information, then its page can also be removed.
Complaint to IT ministry, then restored post: The PIB officials later complained to the IT ministry, which took up the issue with Facebook and Instagram officials via email. It was only after this intervention that both the platforms restored the fact check of PIB. A Facebook spokesperson told The Indian Express that it had temporarily blocked the content by mistake.
It has been told that after this incident, the IT Ministry has also expressed concern over the lack of transparency in the appointment of fact-checkers from the company. An IT ministry official said- “Both the platforms (Facebook and Instagram) talk about having robust fact-checking methods. But when we spoke to him on the deleted post of PIB, he said that it was unintentional as the machine had termed it as false news. On this, we raised the question that why it was not cross-checked with a human fact-checker.
Government demanding transparency in fact-checking: It is believed that the IT Ministry has asked these social media intermediaries to be more transparent about their fact-checking process and to inform about the fact-checkers appointed. Let us tell you that this issue of fact-checkers on social media had also cropped up last month when Twitter marked the posts of some BJP members as ‘manipulated media’ because they mentioned the toolkit of Congress. On this too, the ministry had written a letter to Twitter demanding that this tag be removed.
It has been told that earlier on May 10 also Facebook and Instagram had removed a post of PIB. In this, the fact check team of PIB had answered the rumours related to the early stage patients of Corona taking steroids. Facebook had termed this post as fake, but later admitted the mistake, it was restored.