It is important to classify social media platforms as news media and subject them to certain journalistic standards in order to stop dissemination of fake news in the digital age, said Supreme Court Judge S Ravindra Bhat. He made these comments during the 6th Justice VR Krishna Iyer Memorial Lecture organized by Sarada Krishna Sadgamaya Foundation For Law and Justice on December 12th, 2020.
“As architectural public spaces, digital platforms should be accountable for the ways they create and enforce rules that govern people’s interactions. We should seek to hold them to account against Constitutional values,” he said.
He also questioned the idea of digital platforms being fully private and maintaining neutrality. “By acting as mere carriers of information and presenting themselves as neutral intermediary, they seek to avoid implications that they may be responsible for how users behave on their platforms. These platforms can never be neutral because the algorithm is designed to present personalised content.”
He talked about the “vaccum of factuality” that has been created because people prefer to get news from social media. However this vaccum is dangerous “given its potential to influence through fake news and planting bots, disrupting order by triggering riots.”
He said, “If the public cannot obtain factual information, the promise of equal justice is mythical.”
He also emphasized that the Rule of Law should not be sacrificed in the rush to embrace technological opportunities.