The Hyderabad Cyber Crime Police have registered criminal cases against social media platforms Twitter, WhatsApp and TikTok for allegedly allowing people to carry out anti-national activities in the name of protests against the citizenship law, ANI reported on Thursday. Complainant Silveri Srishailam, a journalist who runs a YouTube channel, has named WhatsApp Inc head Abhijit Bose, Twitter Communications India Private Limited Managing Director Manish Maheshwar and Nikhil Gandhi, the head of TikTok, as respondents in the case.
“Notices would be served on the managements of these social media platforms in a couple of days,” an official of the cybercrime wing of Hyderabad Central Crime Station told Hindustan Times.
The first information report was filed on February 18 after an order from a magistrate’s court. “We have received a court referred complaint, which was filed by S Srisailam in the concerned court stating that social media platforms Whatsapp, Twitter and TikTok are allowing a few people to spread anti-national activities and videos,” said Raghuveer, the additional deputy commissioner of police (cyber crimes).
Srisailam had first filed a petition in the local court. In his petition, he alleged that some “anti-national elements” were using TikTok and WhatsApp to spread an “anti-India” campaign. “Some vested interests from Pakistan are posting messages and videos against Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens and in turn, they are being made viral in India,” he alleged.
Srisailam submitted details of some WhatsApp group messages, TikTok videos and tweets along with the mobile numbers used to circulate these content in different languages. He identified a few common mobile numbers acting as administrators for several groups.
Raghuveer said the police cannot take action against these social media platforms, but can initiate action against people who intentionally spread hatred. “The police are conducting the investigation and if allegations of the complainant are found to be false then we will drop the case,” he added.
A WhatsApp spokesperson shared an earlier statement. “WhatsApp has made significant product changes and worked with partners across civil society, engaged with relevant government authorities and other technology platforms to help address the harmful consequences of misinformation,” the spokesperson said, according to The News Minute. TikTok said it was looking into the matter.
WhatsApp has 400 million users in India while TikTok has over 200 million users. Twitter had nearly 35 million active users in India in 2019.