The past 24 hours have been quite anxious pertaining to the probable ban for Social Media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp) in India for non agreement to the Government’s new IT norms. Although the ban is still under ‘probable‘ status, the news is enough to cause a nationwide panic specially when Social Media is turning out to be a messiah for the people of India during these testing times.
While it is right to be worried, it is equally important to understand why the ban is going to be made in the first place.
On February 25, 2021. Government of India’s new Information Technology (IT) Rules were initiated giving large companies (> 50 Lakh users) 3 months to comply with the new regulations. These large companies included the tech giants Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp (possibly). The companies would have to agree or risk losing their “intermediary status” in failure to comply with the new norms.
As per an Instagram post by Andre Borges:
“intermediary status applies to the legal status of that company. With it, FB, Instagram etc are not held liable for someone posting on their platform. Stripped of that they become basically publishers and can be held liable. Now while that seems like it’s a good thing, it can actually be very bad.“
Anyone who finds any posted content offensive, can sue the person but also the social media platform too. For example, if an individual finds a certain post on Instagram offensive and were to sue them. Then Instagram under these new norms would be more vulnerable legally. Owing to which the platforms would eventually start censoring, omitting and banning more content in order not to risk getting anyone offended. Essentially “curbing free speech, fair communication, and dissent, a fact they have been arguing.“
The new norms are being implemented for improving transparency and making the platforms more open to the public. Currently the IT Ministry has no “emergency blocking powers” which implies that the platforms cannot be blocked suddenly. The platforms on the other hand have requested for a 6 month period to put things in place and comply with the new IT norms.
Putting a ban on these sites would affect millions. While there are creators whose lifeline is solely Instagram. There are also the common people of India who are in the grip of the 2nd wave of Covid-19 seeking Social Media help for resources and services.
To know more about the Social Media ban, watch this video by Technical Guruji: