HC orders removal of ‘fake news’ from Facebook, YouTube

The High Court buildingFile photo

The High Court (HC) on Tuesday ordered the authorities concerned to remove six ‘fake’ news stories and video links containing provocative content that is creating unrest in public life from Facebook and YouTube, along with steps to stop the spread of such content, reoirts news agency UNB.

The HC bench of Justice Md Khasruzzaman and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir passed the order after hearing a writ petition regarding the issue.

Two government bodies, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and the Digital Security Agency, were asked to submit a report within two weeks in this regard.

At the same time, HC ordered an accountability strategy in accordance with the relevant laws, to verify the authenticity of all the news and videos posted on Facebook and YouTube.

Lawyer Munshi Moniruzzaman and Arafat Hossain Khan appeared for the writ petition in the court while deputy attorney general Bipul Bagmar represented the state.

On 21 August, barrister Arafat Hossain Khan, on behalf of lawyer Nilufar Anjum and barrister Ashraful Islam, served a legal notice to these two social media (Facebook-YouTube) authorities along with the relevant government agencies to remove six fake video links from the social platform.

On 25 August, failed to get a response, lawyer Nilufar Anjum and barrister Ashraful Islam filed a writ petition with the HC seeking its instructions on the issue.

Head of public policy of Facebook and YouTube Bangladesh Shabnaz Rashid Dia, BTRC chairperson, director general of Digital Security Agency and Inspector General of Police (IGP) were made respondents to the writ.

According to the writ petition, the authorities concerned failed to monitor and control the provocative and fake contents posted on social media threatening the sovereignty and security of the state and the order of public life.

This misleading information tarnishes the image of the state organs, which is a violation of the constitution, the Bangladesh telecommunication act, digital security act (DSA) and the information and communication technology (ICT) act.

The writ also stated that Facebook and YouTube have recently been found to be not fully observing their monitoring strategy, especially in Bangladesh.

Such actions are being committed to present Bangladesh as a failed state to the international community creating instability in the country, it added.

The writ claimed that ignorance of the clear policy of BTRC and DSA and the recent regulation of Facebook-YouTube is spreading fake news against their own policy and creating violence and unrest.