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Can't Take Down Account Until Court Finds All Tweets Defamatory :Twitter Opposes Sameer Wankhede's Suit

Sharmeen Hakim
18 Dec 2021 4:01 AM GMT
Cant Take Down Account Until Court Finds All Tweets Defamatory :Twitter Opposes Sameer Wankhedes Suit
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Twitter has also said that 'hashtags' cannot be removed en-masse.

Twitter Inc has sought the dismissal of NCB officer Sameer Wankhede and his wife's suit, stating that it cannot take down a social media account until a court finds all the tweets to be defamatory. Neither can hashtags be removed en masse. "The relief is untenable in law.. it suffers from the vice of casting judicial functions on an intermediary. An intermediary cannot determine...

Twitter Inc has sought the dismissal of NCB officer Sameer Wankhede and his wife's suit, stating that it cannot take down a social media account until a court finds all the tweets to be defamatory. Neither can hashtags be removed en masse.

"The relief is untenable in law.. it suffers from the vice of casting judicial functions on an intermediary. An intermediary cannot determine what content is malicious, defamatory or deprecatory. Such determination must be made by a judicial authority."

Wankhede and his wife recently approached the City Civil Court at Dindoshi through Rex Legalis seeking directions to social media giants Google and Facebook/Meta and Twitter to refrain from displaying or publishing malicious and defamatory content against them.

In a suit accompanied by a notice of motion, Wankhede sought an order under section 79 of the Information Technology Act and permanently injunction/block individuals attempting to assassinate the couple's character and block the derogatory content posted.

Twitter claimed the interim relief sought by the Wankhedes is "overbroad and ex facie contrary to the settled principles of law, and cannot be granted."

Moreover, the plaintiffs had failed to identify the alleged defamatory content …relief against such content also cannot be sought in the manner in which the Plaintiffs have sought," the affidavit filed by an authorised representative states.

It further calls the suit false, frivolous, vexatious and not tenable in law.

The court on Friday disposed of the chamber summons and allowed Wankhede to implead the parent companies as parties to the suit. The plea will be heard on Tuesday.

HASHTAGS AND PROFILES WHICH CANNOT BE REMOVED EN MASSE

The social media giant says that the alleged inappropriate content submitted by Wankhede includes some URLS about Tweets. Out of this, there are four URLS that pertain to an account as a whole and two URLS which pertain to "Hashtags" as a whole.

"It is humbly submitted that such URLS cannot be acted upon by Defendant No.3."

The reply explains that hashtags cannot be removed en masse, as hashtags may be used contextually. Twitter says, "There is no gainsaying the fact that the use of the hashtag itself does not make a Tweet defamatory, and thus, there has to be an adjudication of a particular Tweet to be defamatory before that particular Tweet can be taken down."

Similarly, there cannot be a blanket takedown of account unless the Court finds that all the Tweets are defamatory. "This is more so because the Plaintiffs have failed to make the account holder a party to the list."

The other grounds for opposing Wankhede's notice of motion include –

1. Mandatory Declaratory reliefs not sought – Twitter claimed that an injunction against publication of defamatory content can only be a consequential relief, when there is a declaration that the alleged content is defamatory in the first place.

2.Intermediary is not liable for the content hosted on its platform – Citing section 79 of the IT Act Twitter claimed that they are an intermediary and entitled to protection regarding content not created by them.

3.The company said that the suit was not maintainable as they have not made originators of the content party to the suit.


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