"Days Of Free Pass, Immunity Over": IT Minister On Meta Being Sued In US

Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, "The world has given a free ride to these platforms. The US in particular, and it is time to take a re-look at things"

New Delhi:

Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said today that the days of "free pass" and "immunity" to social media platforms are over and strict accountability will be enforced here on across the world. In an exclusive interview to NDTV in the backdrop of a lawsuit against Meta -- which also operates Facebook -- by more than 40 US states, the minister for Information and Technology underscored that so far, the world has focussed on the good sides of these platforms and now it is time to open our eyes to the negative aspects.

The US federal lawsuit accuses Meta of "exploiting" young users by creating a business model designed to maximise the time they spend on the platform despite harm to their mental health.

"Research has shown that young people's use of Meta's social media platforms is associated with depression, anxiety, insomnia, interference with education and daily life, and many other negative outcomes," the complaint said.

"The world has given a free ride to these platforms. The US in particular, and it is time to take a re-look at things," Mr Chandrasekhar said.

"Platforms must be much more accountable. Who is allowed to host content. I think days of this free pass and immunity are over. This is our government's intention as well...  We must wake up to reality that there is harm and criminality lurking around," he added.

Asked how the Indian government will ensure protection for its citizens, Mr Chandrasekhar said, "We expect all platforms to follow rules. They are sent notices under IT rules. If they don't respond, consequences under law will follow. There will be a zero-tolerance policy".

Meta came under the lens of US investigators after a Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, leaked internal documents that sparked criticism that the social media giant had put profit before the security of its users.

Facebook, she alleged, has failed to curtail toxic content and cannot be trusted to change its ways.

Meta said that it is committed to keeping teens safe online and has introduced more than 30 tools to support them.

The firm said it was "disappointed" by the suit and that the states were not working with social media companies to create age-appropriate standards.