In India, coming May 26 may see a ban on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram unless all these platforms follow the latest Guidelines.
The timeline to implement the government’s guidance is May 25, but none of the sites, including WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter, have complied with the new rules.
Koo is the only organization so far which adopted the latest rules
The only social media app that has met with the latest rules ahead of the May 25 deadline is Koo, the Indian equivalent of Twitter. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITy) gave social media three months to comply with the current IT rules in February 2021.
Crucial period for social media
According to a government official, it is a critical time for social media organizations that if they do not comply with the new regulations by May 25, they will forfeit their intermediary rights and privileges, and criminal action may be brought against them under Indian law. The companies operating in the United States had requested a six-month extension because they were awaiting a response from the US headquarters.
“We plan to comply with the terms of the IT rules and continue to address a couple of the topics that need further interaction with the government,” a company spokesman said in a tweet, revealing whether Facebook will follow the rules or not. We are working to incorporate operating procedures and boost efficiencies following the IT laws. Facebook is dedicated to people’s right to express themselves openly and anonymously on our platform.”
Latest Regulations from Ministry of E&IT
According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s latest regulations, social media companies must nominate enforcement officers from India. The officer will take care of the complaints, keep an eye on the material, and delete it if it is offensive. These principles apply not only to social media sites but also to over-the-top (OTT) platforms.
Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services will be required to nominate a grievance redressal officer based in India who will handle complaints and respond within 15 days. According to the government, social media websites do not have a self-regulatory code. As a result, it wants the businesses to join a committee with members from different ministries to control the material.
The revised guidelines also state that the committee would have exclusive authority to investigate cases of code violations.
What all is included in the new regulations by the government
As per the government, if there are concerns about users’ dignity, especially women’s dignity, such as exposed sexual organs of people, pornography, lewd acts, impersonation, and so on, social media sites must delete the content within 24 hours of receiving the complaint.
According to the regulations, social media sites must have a chief enforcement officer based in India responsible for ensuring that the act and regulations are followed.
The second is a nodal contact person who should be based in India and be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to coordinate with law enforcement agencies. In addition, social media sites must nominate a resident grievance officer who will carry out the specified grievance redress process. They’ll also have to post a monthly update about the number of inquiries they’ve got and how far they’ve progressed in resolving them.
Presumptions abound on the microblogging platforms, as well as other social media sites’ future in India. Although several people favored banning Twitter, there were also many trending hashtags in support of Twitter in India.
When it first announced the new set of rules in February, it stated that the new regulations would occur immediately but that major social network providers (based on the number of users) would have three months to comply.
The three-month deadline meant that enforcement had to be met by May 25.
Significant social media sites will now be required to post a monthly monitoring report that includes information on messages received and actions taken and information on material that was proactively deleted. They’ll also have to post a physical email address in India on their website, smartphone app, or both.
According to government statistics, India has 53 million WhatsApp users, 44.8 million YouTube subscribers, 41 million Facebook subscribers, 21 million Instagram users, and 1.75 million Twitter users.
Companies in the social media industry are looking for more time.
Any social media sites, according to reports, have requested an extension of up to six months to include compliance.
The standard answer in some platforms was to wait for guidance from their headquarters in the USA, which takes their expertise evaluation.
They are business doing companies in India and are earning good revenues, but complaints must be remedied according to the instructions from the USA. Some sites like Twitter hold their fact-checkers whose identities have not been public or transparent in their selection and status.
The new provisions were laid down to increase the accountability and responsibility for the content on their web pages of social media sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram, which have been used enormously in India over the last few years.
Remarkably, the rules call for substantial social media intermediaries—those who specifically provide messaging services—to be able to identify the “first originator” of information that threatens India’s sovereignty, security, or public order.
However, the intermediary would not be allowed to reveal the contents of such messages.
This may have far-reaching consequences for companies like Twitter and WhatsApp.
According to the rules, users who willingly wish to validate their accounts should be given an acceptable mechanism to do so, as well as a clear mark of verification.
When a principal social media intermediary eliminates posts independently, users would need to be notified and provide an excuse. Under such situations, consumers must be given an appropriate and fair opportunity to challenge the intermediary’s actions.