The future of social media platforms like Instagram, FB, and Twitter now strands in question in India. After failing to comply with the government’s rules on digital content – they risk a ban in India. To recall, these new social media rules rolled out in February 2021. Now, the three-month deadline by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITy) to accept these guidelines ends today i.e. May 25. Considering the risk, however, none of the giants have so far accepted the new regulations.
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Furthermore, the social media platforms are now on notice by the Centre with a warning. The notice informs of its failure to comply with a set of guidelines that will come into effect in two days. Instagram, FB, and Twitter if fail to comply they risk losing their intermediary status and the protections that come with it. Moreover, they could also face criminal charges and a ban on their operations in India. This situation stands in every user’s mind: will these apps ban in India after 48 hours?
The Centre’s New Guidelines for Social Media Explained
On February 25, 2021, the Centre released The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. These new guidelines explain the rules on regulating content on OTT platforms and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. According to the Centre, it is to make social media platforms more responsible and accountable. Especially the content that they allow the users to put out on their platforms.
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According to guidelines, the platforms will need to disclose the first originator of a mischievous tweet or message. Those can be in relation to the sovereignty of India, the security of the state, relations with foreign states, rape, etc. Moreover, in a move that caused a stir, the government ordered that social media platforms would be bound under the law to remove any content flagged by authorities within 36 hours. Additionally, they had to set up a complaint redressal mechanism. Meaning there will need to place an officer based in the country to resolve the matter. Let us see what Instagram, FB, and Twitter did.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to be banned in India?
As mentioned above, the platforms need to appoint a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact person, and a resident grievance officer in India. It had to happen under 3 months of the order. Apart from the homegrown Koo App, no other social media complied with the rules. Furthermore, sources reveal that social media platforms have taken to offering ‘standard responses’. Such as seeking more time for furnishing compliance (up to 6 months in certain cases). Whereas, some claim that they can not take any action until they receive instructions from their company headquarters in the USA.
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This leads to questions on whether there will be a ban on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. However, so far, there is no confirmation on whether there will be a ban or no ban in India. Although sources also confirm that the Centre is not very happy with the lackluster response from the social media giants. In turn, they have warned that failure to comply with the rules would lead to the companies losing their status and protection as Intermediaries. In some cases, it may also render these companies liable for criminal action as per the existing laws of India.