Social Media Releases First Compliance Report Under New IT Rules

The new IT rules require digital platforms with more than 5 million users to publish monthly compliance reports

Social Media Releases First Compliance Report Under New IT Rules
Social Media Releases First Compliance Report Under New IT Rules
PTI - 03 July 2021

Ravi Shankar Prasad, the union minister for Information Technology and Law, commended Google, Facebook, and Instagram for releasing their first compliance reports on the voluntary removal of objectionable material. It was a significant step forward in terms of transparency, according to the minister.

"Nice to see significant social media platforms like Google, Facebook and Instagram following the new IT Rules. First compliance report on voluntary removal of offensive posts published by them as per IT Rules is a big step towards transparency," he tweeted.

Large digital platforms with more than 5 million users are now required to produce monthly compliance reports under the new IT guidelines. These records outline the complaints received by social media firms over information uploaded on their platforms, as well as the actions followed by the companies.

Facebook said on Friday that from May 15 to June 15, it 'actioned' against more over 30 million content pieces across ten violation categories in the nation, according to its first compliance report. During this time, Instagram, a Facebook-owned photo-sharing network, claimed it 'actioned' against approximately two million items across nine categories.

The term 'actioned' material refers to the number of pieces of content, such as posts, photographs, videos, or comments, that have had action taken against them for violating standards. Taking action may involve deleting a piece of content from Facebook or Instagram, or notifying people about images or videos that are upsetting to them.

Individual users in India filed 27,762 complaints with Google and its video-sharing site YouTube in April of this year, alleging violations of local laws or personal rights. As a result, 59,350 pieces of material were removed.

In its June compliance report, Koo, the indigenous Twitter alternative, stated that it proactively reviewed 54,235 material pieces, with 5,502 items being reported by its users.

New IT Regulations

Apart from releasing monthly compliance reports, the new IT regulations require social media intermediaries to reveal the number of particular communication links or sections of material that have been deleted or to which access has been restricted as a result of proactive monitoring using automated technologies.

Major social media sites are also required to employ a chief compliance officer, a nodal officer, and a grievance officer who are all Indian citizens under the new IT laws. Spoorthi Priya was recently hired as Facebook's India complaints officer. If social media platforms do not follow the IT regulations, they will lose their intermediary status, which protects them from liability for any third-party data they host.

The restrictions, according to the Centre, are intended to prevent misuse of social media platforms in India, which is one of the world's largest markets for social media companies. India has 53 crore WhatsApp users, 41 crore Facebook subscribers, 21 crore Instagram users, and 1.75 crore Twitter users, according to official figures from earlier this year.

The adoption of IT laws by social media intermediaries is likely to exacerbate problems for microblogging site Twitter in India, which has been at odds with the central government over the new legislations. New Delhi has issued a warning to Twitter for failing to follow the new IT standards.

Twitter’s Action

On Twitter's website, Jeremy Kessel of California was recently designated India's grievance redressal officer, which is in breach of the new IT guidelines. In India, the social media platform has lost its legal cover as a middleman, and is now responsible for any illegal information posted by users.

Twitter has recently announced that it is nearing the completion of the process of selecting a new complaints office in India. In the midst of a dispute with the government over new IT rules, the Twitter website published an erroneous map of India on Monday, depicting Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh as distinct countries. Following much criticism, the erroneous map was deleted later that day.

Ravi Shankar Prasad's Twitter account was also briefly banned due to a DMCA violation. A similar action was taken against Shashi Tharoor, the head of the parliamentary committee on information technology, who is a member of the Congress. Both accounts were eventually reactivated.

In recent months, Twitter has clashed with the government on a number of matters, notably during the farmers' strike and subsequently when the microblogging site labelled political tweets by numerous members of the governing party BJP as "manipulated media," prompting a harsh reprimand from the administration.