Meta’s functioning worse than govt department: Delhi High Court

"Please be careful. You have to be alive to the situation. Your system is not working. Your system does not work. It has to work," the court told Meta

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The court was hearing a petition filed by a media house against Meta

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The Delhi High Court has come down strongly on Meta, the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, saying the multinational social media giant’s functioning was worse than that of a government department.

A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora made the observation after Meta failed to respond satisfactorily to a plea by the media group TV Today Network. The plea was filed after Meta blocked the group’s Instagram page for its publication, Harper’s Bazaar India, following third party complaints on copyright infringement.

“You are far worse than a government department. Please be careful. You have to be alive to the situation. Your system is not working. Your system does not work. It has to work,” the Bench said at the hearing of the case on Tuesday.

Following Meta’s blocking the Harper’s Bazaar Insta page, TV Today counsel Hrishikesh Baruah said his client had made several attempts to reach out to Meta and even tried to communicate with the social media platform through its grievance redressal officer. Meta, however, merely furnished a generic reply in an email saying the media house had not written to the right channel, Advocate Baruah told the Bench.

Meta’s lawyer Advocate Tejas Karia told the court that the company’s response to TV Today was not a final one and sought more time for the company to ready a comprehensive reply. He said that Meta had blocked the Harper’s Bazaar page following three complaints of copyright violation, adding that the Meta email submitted by TV Today in court was an automatic reply and it did not reflect a decision to reject the media house grievance. Advocate Karia also spoke of the huge volume of requests that Meta had to handle on a daily basis.

The High Court Bench responded saying Meta should not use its sizeable user base as an excuse for lack of proper functioning and that its response to TV Today seemed dismissive. The Meta advocate sought adjournment and the court is scheduled to resume hearing on Wednesday.

Even as the hearing was on, the Bench directed the petitioner’s advocate to fill up the requisite form in the presence of the Meta counsel. After a while, Advocate Baruah representing TV Today declared that his client’s complaint had once again been rejected. This drew the ire of the High Court Bench.

“You cannot be stubborn with us. Follow what we are saying. You’re not able to understand what we are saying… We have been more than liberal with you. We have given you enough time to set your house in order… You may be having billions of users but your house is not in order,” the Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora told Meta.

“Your system is not working. We will pass an order and castigate you then… Don’t do this…. Please understand, the Rule will become invalid if the system won’t work,” the Bench told Meta, listing the case for further hearing on Wednesday.

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