Meta Platforms Inc at Delhi High Court
Social media giant Meta Platforms Inc – the parent company of Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp – told the Delhi High Court that rights under Article 19 (freedom of speech) of the Indian Constitution cannot be invoked against it by a user and that it is a private entity that does not exercise a public function.
In its affidavit filed in response to a written motion against an alleged deactivation of an Instagram account, the US-based company said that the “Instagram service is a free and voluntary platform”, governed by a private contract, and that the requesting user “has no fundamental right to use it”.
Several motions are before the High Court challenging the suspension and deletion of several user accounts by various social media platforms.
In March, in response to another petition against the suspension of a Twitter account, the central government told the High Court that an individual’s liberty and liberty cannot be “attacked or abandoned in the wake of social progress. and technology” and social media platforms. must respect the basic rights of citizens and abide by the Constitution of India.
He had stressed that a prominent social media intermediary must be held accountable for subjugating and supplanting fundamental rights like the right to freedom of speech and expression, otherwise it would have “disastrous consequences for any democratic nation”. .
In her affidavit filed in this case, Meta argued that she is under no obligation to perform a “public duty” and that when an action is brought against a user pursuant to the private contract between them, it results in a ” contractual dispute between two private parties”.
Whether its alleged enforcement actions were improper is governed by Instagram’s Terms of Service and Community Guidelines which constitute the private contract and Meta is therefore not subject to the written jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 226 of the Constitution, the social media giant said.
“The Petitioner’s attempt to have this Honorable Court invoke its jurisdiction in brief is particularly inappropriate because the relationship between the Petitioner and Meta arises out of private contract and the alleged dispute at issue is contractual and Article 19 rights do not may be asserted against a private entity such as Meta,” the affidavit states.
“The Petitioner’s attempt to assert Section 19 rights against Meta, a private entity, is improper, contrary to law, and must be denied… Meta does not perform a public function that would make it liable to the jurisdiction of this honorable court under Article 226,” he added.
In the affidavit, Meta further stated that, contrary to the petitioner’s allegations, it does not enjoy a monopoly in the field of information dissemination or exercise a sovereign function, and the law only requires that intermediaries offer the option of appealing after action has been taken against any account and not hearing them until action is taken.
“The petitioner has not alleged a single fact demonstrating that the Instagram service, or Meta itself, satisfies any of the above (civil service) tests. On the contrary, (i) Meta is not obliged to perform a public duty, (ii) the government exercises no control over the management of Meta or its day-to-day operations, and (iii) Meta has not been granted any exclusive right to exercise any activity, nor has Meta been granted monopoly status under the law, (iv) Meta does not perform any function similar to or closely related to functions performed by the state in its sovereign capacity, and (v) Meta provides the Instagram service voluntarily, and is not obligated to do so,” the affidavit states.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)