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SOURCE: ET

A set of Chinese social media handles that were attempting to inflame border tensions in Ladakh by posting purported images and videos of troops and alleged PLA advances have been taken down, even as the government has cracked down on misinformation across platforms as part of a dedicated drive to curb state-sponsored propaganda.

Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar told ET that new IT Intermediatory Guidelines have ensured that platforms like Twitter are taking action on complaints and suspending users indulging in propaganda and misinformation.

Among prominent handles taken down are @evazhengll and @mioplosus_bass that were regularly posting videos and photos from the Eastern Ladakh border as well as Arunachal Pradesh to make claims of territorial gain by the Chinese and targeting Indian troops.

These suspended handles were also putting out information using maps and photographs from the Chinese side, which were an indication of official access by Beijing as part of a propaganda war.

Another handle taken down is @ChinaPakWW that had posted photos in January claiming that the Chinese flag had been raised at Galwan valley on New Year’s Eve, a post that was even picked up by opposition parties to target the government.

At least two of the suspensions have been claimed by a group named ‘Indian Cyber Defender’ that reports offensive or incorrect posts to social media companies. Officials say that social media companies are now obliged to take action after receiving complaints, unlike in the past where they could easily be ignored.

“Under the new rules, there is clarity that platforms are accountable and have to take action against those spreading fake news and unlawful content. No platform will serve its users and not be accountable,” Chandrasekhar told ET.

Similarly, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has also cracked down on YouTube channels for misinformation and fake news targeting India. More than 90 accounts have been taken down in recent months as part of a dedicated drive and the government is urging citizens to report unlawful content.

“It is an ongoing process. We would like more and more citizens to come forward and inform us and contribute to the effort,” Apurva Chandra, secretary, I&B Ministry, said.