There is a chance that by the time you wake up in the morning and Instagram, Facebook and Twitter may have gone off from your mobile screens in India. Social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Instagram may face a ban in India if they fail to comply with the new intermediary guidelines for social media platforms in India.
The three-month deadline given by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology to accept these guidelines that end is on 25th May but none of these internet giants like WhatsApp, Facebook, And Instagram have so far accepted the new regulations. The rules will be effective from today on 26 May despite these companies seeking a total six-month delay in their implementation. But what is this entire issue? Let me explain to you as simply as I can.
New IT Rules
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp are platforms – they merely carry the content posted by us. But the new rules announced in February 2021 require these large social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp to follow additional due diligence, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact person, and a resident grievance officer. Because right now, there is no one in their offices that the Indian govt can hold accountable if any objectionable content is posted on these platforms.
The Indian Govt officials say that appointment of a grievance officer would be a key requirement from day one of these rules coming into effect. This is because of the growing importance of public interface for complaints, and the need for an acknowledgment system for such requests.
The Indian government had set 50 lakh registered users as the threshold for defining them as a ‘significant social media intermediary’, meaning that all these big players like Twitter, Facebook, and Google would have to comply with the new rules because they all have a lot more than 50 lakh users. They all had 3 months to comply, which got over 25 May’s night at 12. And it’s not that simple.
These big social media companies will also have to publish a monthly compliance report disclosing details of complaints received by them and the action that they have taken. They also have to give the details of contents they remove proactively to the Indian govt. They also need to have a physical contact address in India, which has to be published on their website or app, or both.
As per the government, India has 53 crores WhatsApp users, 44.8 crores YouTube users, 41 crores Facebook subscribers, 21 crores Instagram users, and 1.75 crores account holders on Twitter. Koo, India’s answer to Twitter, is the only platform that has so far accepted the government’s new rules.
Koo has close to 60 lakh users, making it a major social media intermediary under the new guidelines. Interestingly, Facebook is the only foreign platform that has indicated that it’ll comply with the IT rules but says they want to continue discussing a few of the issues that need more engagement with the Indian government. Ironically, Twitter was exploding this evening with the hashtag Twitter Ban, trending on the no.1 spot. Many memes have already started becoming viral on the internet hilariously making light of the situation, which is pretty serious if it happens. After all, we all saw apps like TikTok, going away in a flash.
Cyber Experts, however, say that it’s very unlikely that social media giants like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp will stop available in India from tomorrow. Simply because the new rules won’t stop them from functioning…they will just make them extremely vulnerable and liable to be prosecuted, as their protection will be taken away by the Indian government.
What are your thoughts on this baffling piece of news? Can you imagine life without Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and most importantly WhatsApp? Many would say it’s their worst nightmare come true. Is it the same for you too? Let me know what you feel in the comments.