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India: Social media sites pressed to remove "inflammatory content"

Indian officials claim that nearly 250 websites contained doctored materials and videos showing violence against Muslims in an effort to sow tensions.

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India cracked down on websites that it said was spreading "inflammatory content." (Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images)

India cracked down on hundreds of websites this week in what the country says is an effort to stem communal violence.

Reuters reported that Indian officials claim that nearly 250 websites contained doctored materials and videos showing violence against Muslims in an effort to sow tensions.

The videos, images and text messages contained on the sites are said to have caused a mass exodus of people fearing retaliation for violence against Muslims in the northeastern Assam region.

The Indian government said that Facebook had already complied with the request to censor the material in question, but claimed that the response from Twitter was so far "poor," said the Times of India.

Al Jazeera reported that India's telecommunications secretary said that the government would take legal action against those sites that don't comply with requests to remove the material.

GlobalPost has reported previously on the tension between the Indian government and websites that host content they deem offensive. Indeed, Indian technology laws say that sites like Google and Facebook have 36 hours to take down content the government deems inflammatory or face a penalty.

More from GlobalPost: India: the dangers of an assault on free speech

The New York Times reported that India has been frustrated by social media sites after exerting decades of control over their domestic media.

The newspaper reported that last year an Indian minister tried to force sites like Facebook to prescreen content. The effort failed when the sites refused.

The latest crackdown on websites is a continuation of these efforts — though this time it appears the social media giants cooperated in the face of rising ethnic tension.

Religious violence in Assam has killed nearly 80 people and displaced some 300,000 since July, Reuters reported.

More from GlobalPostIndia: the dangers of an assault on free speech

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/120822/india-social-media-sites-pressed-remove-inflammatory