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What next for Facebook, Twitter in India? New guidelines come into effect from May 26

Will the social media giants face a ban in the country?

AP Poll Social Media Representational image

Just a day ahead of the May 26 deadline for social media giants like Twitter and Facebook to enforce measures that the Centre has mandated in new guidelines, a tug-of-war seems to be on the cards. Neither company has appointed a chief nodal officer or sufficient grievance redressal mechanisms, both of which are required as per the new directives, reported both NDTV and The Indian Express quoting government sources.  

What is a consequence of the inaction? The social media companies could lose their privileges under Section 79 of the IT Act, which states that an intermediary (these organisations) will not be liable for any "third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him". In essence, the companies could be held criminally responsible for content on their platforms. 

On February 25, the government had announced tighter regulations for social media firms like Facebook and Twitter, requiring them to remove any content flagged by authorities within 36 hours and setting up a complaint redressal mechanism with an officer being based in the country. The government had set 50 lakh registered users as the threshold for defining ''significant social media intermediary'', which will have to adhere to additional obligations and compliance under the new IT rules that seek to crack down on misuse of social media platforms.

Announcing the guidelines in February, it had said the new rules take effect immediately, while significant social media providers (based on number of users) will get three months (which ends May 26) before they need to start complying.

The new rules—announced earlier this year—require ''significant social media intermediaries'' to follow additional due diligence, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer. All three officials will have to reside in India.

The players will have to publish a monthly compliance report and details of the contents removed proactively. As per data cited by the government, India has 53 crore WhatsApp users, 44.8 crore YouTube users, 41 crore Facebook subscribers, 21 crore Instagram clients, while 1.75 crore account holders are on microblogging platform Twitter. The new rules were introduced to make social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram—which have seen a phenomenal surge in usage over the past few years in India—more accountable and responsible for the content hosted on their platform.

Social media companies will have to take down posts depicting nudity or morphed photos within 24 hours of receiving a complaint, and will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischievous information that undermines the sovereignty of India, security of the state, or public order when asked by the court or government.

-Inputs from PTI

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