‘Spreading rumours on social media can`t be freedom of speech`

Last Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 18:47

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday indicated that the spread of rumours with malafide intention on social networking sites could not be interpreted as freedom of speech.

Speaking on `pros and cons of tweets` being jointly organised by Google, Omar said twitter in the present day`s political space "supplements and complements what we do" but added that the micro-blogging site could not be an accurate indicator of what people are thinking.

"I can`t use twitter to gauge the mood of people in Kashmir as to how they react to a particular story. I can use it to get my point of view across," he said.

Asked about the use of micro-blogging site especially recently in the aftermath of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru hanging, he said use of the social networking sites is a classic example after the execution was done in the national capital.
"No sooner had he (Afzal) been executed, we started seeing rumours on social media that his mother died because of shock and you saw people coming out to protest his mother`s death, which had not happened.

"So, we ask service providers like Google and others to block sites and other things. It`s not an easy call to make for somebody who uses social media to get his messages across and then turn around and ask for blocking it," he said.
Asked whether this was the reason for blocking the Internet after Afzal`s hanging, Omar said with a smile "we did not block the Internet, we only shorteneed the bandwidth so that rumours do not fly from one part of the Valley to other."

Omar, who was flanked by Union Minister Shashi Tharoor and campaign manager for US President Barack Obama, Stephanie Cutter, said it created a "huge problem for us in drawing a fine line between free speech and something that can be hugely problematic.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 18:47

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