Facebook, Twitter full of posts against content censorship

New Delhi : Even as Communications Minister Kapil Sibal Tuesday tried to allay concerns over censorship of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, Web users continued to speak out against any proposed restriction on posting of content.

Sibal said the government did not intent to curb free expression but also could not tolerate and remain a mute spectator to “objectionable” content that hurt religious sentiments or “maligned” an individual’s identity.

But that did not stop tweets and reactions some of which also criticised the minister.

“If Kapil Sibal wants to jail us for speaking our mind on the Internet, go ahead! We’ll just go ahead and get bail like Kanimozhi,” tweeted renowned stock market broker Rakesh Jhunjhunwala.

Another user, Faking News said: “Does Kapil Sibal mean that those Indian laws, which punish a person for hurting religious sentiments, don’t apply to the online world?”

The minister in a hurriedly convened briefing told reporters that the government would look at ways of curbing “blasphemous” content which could hurt the religious sentiments of a large section of communities in India.

“Religious sentiments of many communities and of any reasonable person is being hurt because of content which is on the sites,” he told reporters here.

The pictures, which were shown off-the-record, depicted Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a bad light, while some others were insulting to various religions.

“Spoke to Kapil Sibal. He assured me he opposes political censorship. Concern is communally inflammatory images and language which he described,” said a posting from avid tweeter Shashi Tharoor, a former minister and party colleague of Sibal.

“Have to say, I support Kapil Sibal on the examples he gave me: Deeply offensive material about religions and communities that could incite riots.”

Sibal in Tuesday’s briefing said his ministry had decided to come up with guidelines and measures to curb malicious and inciting user content, after representatives from Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Microsoft during a meeting with him declined to remove offensive content.

Facebook, however, said it already had policies and on-site features in place that enabled people to report any abusive content.

“We will remove any content that violates our terms, which are designed to keep material that is hateful, threatening, incites violence or contains nudity off the service. We recognise the government’s interest in minimising the amount of abusive content that is available online and will continue to engage with the Indian authorities,” said the company.

Author Chetan Bhagat posted that internet is something that cannot be censored.

“I hate some of the stuff written on the Internet, but I’d hate it even more if they were not allowed to write it. You can’t censor the Internet. You shouldn’t censor the Internet. That’s it.”

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