As much as, we wish to deny this, but the truth is told; we all are immersed in the social media world and to a great extent. An extent is so huge that if one types the word Twitter in the search engine box, we get recommendations like, “Twitter ban in India”, “is Twitter getting banned in India?” and more; all surrounding a question. A question that has everyone’s hearts in their throats- will Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook be banned in India?
To get a stone off of everyone’s chests, no, none of the above-mentioned social media sites are getting banned in India. Well, that’s a relief, but we need to know what was the reason/reasons that produced this to almost happen and is there a possibility that this may happen in the future.
Let’s start from the roots. Why did this issue come up? The story starts with New Information Technology Rules 2021. Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 were recently published by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. These new regulations cover social media, over-the-top (OTT) services, and digital news in general. These laws aim to ensure that users of social media platforms follow the law and have a way to file complaints. Why you may ask? Well, the answer is simple, social media impacts us all, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Moreover, the government statistics state that India has 53 million WhatsApp users, 44.8 million YouTube subscribers, 41 million Facebook subscribers, 21 million Instagram users, and 1.75 million Twitter users. Hence, a check over these social media sites is indispensable. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp, among other social media giants, had until May 25 to comply with India’s new digital platform requirements. Large social media platforms must conduct additional due diligence, including the hiring of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person, and resident grievance officer, according to new guidelines issued in February. These new rules came into effect after a three-month window was given to large social media networks to comply with these guidelines, which were first released in February. These laws were put in place to make social media sites like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram, which have seen massive growth in India in recent years, more accountable and responsible for the information they contain. Following this, Facebook said on Tuesday, 24 May 2021 that it is working to create operational processes and that it expects to comply with the provisions of the IT standards that take effect on 26 May 2021. The new IT laws make it clear that platforms that do not comply may face legal action, but they will not be blacklisted. The new IT guidelines emphasize the necessity for social media platforms to hire a resident grievance officer as part of a larger grievance redressal structure, as well as active content monitoring, monthly compliance reports for Indian users, and self-regulation measures. Users of social media sites were in a panic, fearing that if they didn’t comply with the new IT Rules2021, they would be banned in India.
This is where the IT Rules2021, section 1 of section79, comes into play. When an intermediary fails to comply with these rules, the provisions of sub-section(1) of section 79 of the Act shall not apply to such intermediary, and the intermediary shall be liable to punishment under any law in force at the time, including the provisions of the Act and the Indian Penal Code. Furthermore, section 79 of the new IT laws exempt digital media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and WhatsApp from liability for posts made on their networks, as well as third-party material or data. If social media sites do not comply with the new IT Rules 2021, this legal protection will be revoked, and digital media platforms will be subject to legal action. According to section 79 of the IT rues, an intermediary is not accountable for any third-party information, data, or communication connection made available or hosted by him, notwithstanding anything included in any law now in force, but subject to the restrictions of sub-sections(2) and (3). This simply means that, as of 26 May, when the new IT Rules 2021 took effect, social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter could face a rap on the knuckles for non-compliance with the new rules in relation to any legal proceedings in India, which will hold them liable for the content shared or posted on their platforms. The new IT Rules 2021, on the other hand, make no reference to a penalty for non-compliance. So, don’t be worried. You don’t have to search up “twitter banned in India” or “is Twitter getting banned in India” again and again. However, the question remains, can India ban Twitter and other social media sites in the future? Maybe, if the government brings up new rules in the future where it absolutely becomes necessary to ban Twitter in India. Otherwise, no is the answer to the question, “Can India ban Twitter?”