While rejecting Facebook India Head’s plea to quash the summons issued by the Delhi Assembly, Supreme Court observed that Facebook cannot take a “simplistic approach” that it is merely a platform posting third-party content with no role in generating, controlling or modulating information. The SC asked the Facebook India Head- Ajit Mohan, to appear before a panel investigating the Delhi riots. The Supreme Court also observed that while dealing with the thirty-party information, Facebook’sFacebook’s role is not so “innocuous” and is more “active”.
The judgement stated that the country’s capital can ill-afford any repetition of the occurrence, and thus, the role of Facebook in this context must be looked into by the powers.
“It is in this background that the Assembly sought to constitute a peace and harmony committee – whether it has the legislative competence or not is an aspect we will deal with it under the relevant head. The Assembly being a local legislative and governance body, it cannot be said that their concerns were misconceived or illegitimate,” the judgement further stated.
The SC bench, including Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy, referring to enquiries launched against the social media giant in many countries, observed that “It is too late in the day for companies like Facebook to deny that they a use algorithms (which are sequence of instructions) with some human intervention to personalise content and news to target users. The algorithms select the content based on several factors, including social connections, location, and past online activity of the user”.
The Court further observed, “The sheer population of our country makes it an important destination for Facebook. We are possibly more diverse than the whole of Europe in local culture, food, clothing, language, religion, traditions and yet have a history of what has now commonly been called ”unity in diversity”. This cannot be disrupted at any cost or under any professed freedom by a giant like Facebook claiming ignorance or lack of any pivotal role”.