India implements tough new rules for enforcement actions from social media platforms
This could put a damper on the growth strategies of tech giants in India.
Today the Indian government unveiled a new set of execution requirements for social media platforms, which will impose harsher response times and require local teams, among other parameters.
As reported by TechCrunch, Indian authorities will now require that:
- Social platforms acknowledge receipt of requests to remove illegal, disinformation and / or violent content within 24 hours
- Platforms will need to provide full action and response to such requests within 15 days
- In cases involving explicit sexual content, platforms will be required to remove the content within 24 hours
- The platforms will also have to disclose the author of the objectionable content (WhatsApp has already noted that its encryption processes will not be able to adapt to this)
In addition to this, the platforms will also need to appoint compliance officers, whose contact details will be registered with the authorities, while each company will also need to establish a local office in India to establish a direct connection.
Platforms will also be required to offer a voluntary option to users who wish to verify their accounts.
Meeting all of these demands could pose challenges for social media giants, which have been reluctant to commit to such goals in the past. But as India has already shown in numerous cases, non-compliance can quickly lead to a total ban in the country and loss of connection with its 1.4 billion citizens.
TikTok suffered the brunt of the past year, when it lost its largest user region overnight to ongoing disputes between Indian and Chinese authorities. This saw the platform drop 200 million active users immediately, while more recently Twitter has also faces a potential ban in India for its refusal to comply with requests to remove content related to the recent protests.
Facebook has also had its share of public troubles in India, with its top executive in the region file a complaint against a journalist last year following an article criticizing the alleged selective application of Facebook’s hate speech policies.
Each of these cases played a role in setting India’s new rules, which as noted will add increased friction to their respective efforts to grow in the country and take advantage of India’s emerging dependency. with respect to technology.
Indeed, Twitter and Facebook are experiencing significant growth in India, and both have placed more emphasis on the market as a key part of their ongoing growth projections. As recently as today, Twitter unveiled plans to double its revenue by 2023, highlighting its 74% growth in usage in India as a key part of that projection.
Facebook, meanwhile, is looking to turn WhatsApp, the country’s most popular messaging app, into a key connection tool for a wide range of daily activities. If successful, it could make India the key market for Facebook’s future growth, and it has already invested billions to strengthen its presence in the local industry.
For the most part, it is not impossible for platforms to achieve these new goals, but it will require more investment, which they will no doubt do given their growing reliance on the market. But it could also slow down their growth momentum, depending on the needs. It could also, as noted, complicate matters for WhatsApp, which recently suffered a major backlash among Indian users following proposed changes to data sharing that would see trade information within the app shared with the parent company Facebook.
If WhatsApp is to keep up with content creators, it will undoubtedly trigger another wave of angst.
Other countries will also be monitoring how the platforms respond to the increased regulation. Various regions are looking to implement their own metrics on how tech companies can operate, and the Indian model could provide a few more lessons in shaping these plans.
This, combined with recent pressure from the Australian government to make platforms pay for news content, will help shape more policy approaches, which could ultimately lead to more uniform rules for social platforms across the world.
But we’re not there yet, and you can expect India’s plan to encounter challenges. The impact this will have on each case will be an important one to watch out for.