Information and Broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur today indicated his displeasure at the news website Wire's now retracted stories on Meta and Bharatiya Janata Party's IT chief Amit Malviya.
"It is extremely regrettable that a prominent digital media platform was recently found to be indulging in malicious disinformation to target our government," Thakur said.
Thakur, who did not name the Wire, was speaking at a Press Council of India event commemorating the National Press Day in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Last month, the Wire had accused Malviya of enjoying sweeping powers, including the authority to have posts removed from Instagram at will, under Meta's X Check privileges for select high-profile users.
At the PCI event, Thakur linked the stories to national pride. He added, "The regret is all the more that this was done with no regard for what it does to India's image and the nation's prestige."
Meta had called the Wire stories fabricated. After initial denials, the news website launched an internal review. It then took down the stories and apologised to its readers. Malviya slapped the website with an FIR, alleging defamation and criminal conspiracy.
At the event, the union minister said that the digital expansion of media in India carries a "cautionary note". "Media governance structure is self-regulatory," he said. "It is not a licence to err or err intentionally."
He added that "fake news" and "paid news" are "twin concerns" within the media and that the Narendra Modi government was doing its bit debunking them through PIB Fact Check, a self-styled fact-checking unit of the government's Press Information Bureau.