India introduces stricter regulation for social media platforms

In 2023 amendments to social media regulation, India will introduce a set of stricter rules for social media platforms and their content.

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The Indian government has recently introduced the 2023 amendments to the 2021 Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code that regulate social media intermediaries (SMIs). The revised norms have three well-defined objectives: to address emergent challenges caused by technological innovations, to ensure an open, safe and trusted internet, and to set up a fact-checking unit to screen digital content.

The new rules stipulate that SMIs must inform their users of the ‘host, display, upload, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information in respect to any business of the Indian government that is identified as fake or false or misleading by such fact-check unit’ that governs these platforms. They are also tasked with ‘making reasonable efforts’ to prevent prohibited content from being hosted on their platform by the users. For all SMIs, a grievance officer will be mandated to acknowledge the receipt of a complaint within 24 hours and dispose of it within 15 days. The ministry said that the new rules are not aimed at early-stage start-ups but at large players such as Google, Meta, and Twitter.

The revised norms have elicited angry responses from news organisations, who have expressed fears that the move is yet another bid to ‘muzzle the media’. Critics of the new rules are not buying the government’s arguments that compliance with the amended regulations is mandatory to ‘ensure an open, safe and trusted internet’. However, the administration of Narendra Modi is determined to push forward with the proposed regulation of social media intermediaries.