COVID-19: Jail for those spreading fake news

Amidst a spike in circulation of fake news on social media during the lockdown, State government asked citizens to be responsible and warned them against forwarding any information or post to others without verifying its authenticity.

In a statement on Monday, the Digital Media wing of Information Technology and Communications Department said the entire humanity was facing an unprecedented crisis in the form of coronavirus which had its presence in almost all countries in the world. While people were increasingly depending on social media platforms to create awareness against the disease, some miscreants were spreading fake news, misinformation and rumours with mala fide intentions and the recipients were circulating it due to sheer ignorance.

The department’s Digital Media director Dileep Konatham said spreading fake news, misinformation or rumours in times of national disasters would attract imprisonment up to one year along with fine under Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. “Such acts of spreading fake news is a punishable offence under Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code.

Further, no information related to Covid-19 should be disseminated by any institution or organisation on social media without ascertaining the facts and prior clearance of competent authorities as per the Telangana Epidemic Diseases (COVID-19) Regulations of 2020 under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897,” he explained.

The authorities also advised the media organisations to maintain restraint and not publish/telecast the news without confirmation from the authorities concerned. They said besides registering cases under the relevant sections, the government would also initiate proceedings against the media personnel and organisations under relevant provisions.

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