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New rule coming into effect May 26 threatens Twitter, Facebook operations in India

The new rules on the other hand are also criticised by the opposition parties and independent experts

Tuesday May 25, 2021 9:58 AM, ummid.com with inputs from IANS

India twitter

New Delhi: The deadline to comply with the new legal rules meant for big social media platforms, which were issued by the government three months ago, is ending on Tuesday, threatening the operations of the likes of Twitter in India.

According to top official sources, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and others, which were required to abide by the rules notified in the gazette of India on February 25 under Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021, have failed to comply on many accounts till date.

The government's rules will come into effect from May 26.

"If social media companies do not obey the rules, they may lose their status and protections as intermediaries and may become liable for criminal action as per the existing laws of India," top official sources said.

Except one Indian social media company, Koo, sources said none of the top social media intermediaries have appointed a resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person yet.

Sources said the failure of social media companies to make these appointments in three months has not gone down well with the government.

Sources said the social media platforms which were required to furnish monthly reports as to how many grievances were filed and settled, have failed to do so. Some of the platforms, sources said, have sought more time of up to six months for furnishing compliance.

For some platforms, sources said, the standard reply has been that they will await instructions from their company headquarters in the US, who in turn on their own will have an "expert assessment" to take a view.

The US-based social media platforms have grown huge, thanks to their massive user base and profitable revenues in democracies like India. However, none of the platforms have shown any inclination to comply with India's domestic laws.

"Twitter vs Modi govt"

The new rules on the other hand are also criticised by the opposition parties and independent experts who view them as attempt by the Modi government to curb social media platforms.

Interestingly, Modi government led by the BJP accuse Twitter and other social media platforms of bias in labelling tweets and inaction over abuses and bigotry. This even as the party in itself is accused of running an IT cell and hiring paid trolls who are engaged in hate mongering and spreading fake news, images and videos.

The very latest case in this matter is the tweet of Sambit Patra, spokesperson of BJP. Taking a swift action against the Patra’s tweet tagging a “toolkit” which BJP claimed is prepared by the Congress, Twitter labelled it as “manipulated media”.

While the move is hailed and praised by a huge majority of people in India, Twitter is facing backlash from the BJP and its supporters. In a surprise move, Narendra Modi government too became a party in the matter and asked Twitter to remove “manipulated media” from Patra’s tweet, sources said.

Twitter has not yet responded to the government’s directives. In the meantime a Delhi police team reached Twitter India’s office to serve a notice on the matter but found no one in its premises.


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