Following the attempt by the Indian government to pressurize Twitter to take down accounts it deemed incendiary, strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have been issued by the government.
According to the new regulations, the government expects social media companies to create three new job profiles for their operation in India – appointing a “compliance officer” entrusted with ensuring the company follows local laws; a “grievance officer” to handle complaints from Indian users of the platforms; and a “contact person” who would be available to handle Indian law enforcement 24/7.
Monthly compliance reports showing the number of complaints received and action taken also have to be published by the companies.
Certain types of content that will include posts that feature “full or partial nudity,” a “sexual act” or “impersonation including morphed images” will also have to be removed from their platform by these social media companies.
The government said that the new laws will give a three month period to comply with for large social networks whose definition will soon be fixed by the Indian government and will be based on the number of users. Smaller platforms will have to comply immediately.
The issuing of these new regulations was preceded weeks ago by a tense standoff between Twitter and the Indian government. The Indian government had ordered Twitter to take down a number of accounts that the government believed used “incendiary and baseless” hashtags related to the farmers protest against new agricultural laws in the country. Twitter however reinstated the accounts after initially taking them down. Despite ultimately yielding to the government pressure and removing hundreds of accounts and while partially restricting others, Twitter also sent across a point to the government as it refused to block accounts of journalists, activists and politicians.
“Social media is welcome to do business in India — they have done exceedingly well, they have brought good business, they have brought good number of users, and they have also empowered ordinary Indians,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s minister for electronics and information technology, told reporters. But tech companies need to do more “against the abuse and misuse of social media”, he said even though saying that the government “welcomes criticism and the right to dissent”.
Facebook said it would “carefully study” the new rules. “We have always been clear as a company that we welcome regulations that set guidelines for addressing today’s toughest challenges on the internet,” a company spokesperson told the media.
“Facebook is an ally for India and the agenda of user safety and security is a critical one for our platforms.”
It was going through the new riles, Twitter also said.”We look forward to continued engagement with the Government of India to strike a balance between transparency, freedom of expression, and privacy,” a company spokesperson told the media. “We believe that regulation is beneficial when it safeguards citizen’s fundamental rights and reinforces online freedoms.”
There was however no comment available from Google which owns YouTube.
(Adapted from CNN.com)