Govt puts significant social media intermedaries threshold at 50 lakh registered users


The government has put the threshold of significant social media intermediaries at 50 lakh registered users, which should cover all major global social media platforms in India as well as some Indian homegrown apps which had seen a sizeable uptick in user base post the ban on Chinese apps last year, and other controversies.

While announcing the new rules on Thursday, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said WhatsApp has 53 crore users in India while YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have 44.8 crore, 41 crore, 21 crore and 1.75 crore users respectively.

“These are good numbers. We are happy about it. Indian users are using these platforms and they are also making for a good business case. That’s welcome…But what is happening is that concerns are being raised over the years about rampant abuse of social media platforms,” he had said.

Both Google and Facebook identify India as their biggest market in terms of number of users. India is estimated to be Twitter’s third-largest market after the US and Japan by social media management platform Hootsuite.

Biggest social media platforms in IndiaETtech

Homegrown apps had registered an uptick in user base following the ban on viral short video app TikTok last year. TikTok’s rival ShareChat had said in September last year that it had amassed 160 million monthly active users, up from 60 million during the same period last year, while its short video app Moj had over 80 million monthly active users.
While active user numbers are different from downloads, apps such as Telegram and Signal had seen record growth in the number of new downloads and new users in India last month following updates linked to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.

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Indian microblogging platform Koo had told ET this month that it had seen a tenfold increase of three million downloads in seven days alone following the government’s spat with Twitter.

Making a distinction between social media intermediaries and ‘significant’ social media intermediaries based on the number of users on the platforms, the government said on Thursday that the rules require the significant social media intermediaries to follow additional due diligence. Significant social media intermediaries are expected to appoint Indian resident chief compliance officers, who shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the act and rules, nodal contact persons for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and grievance officers.

Significant social media intermediaries are also expected to publish a monthly compliance report mentioning details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed proactively.

Significant social media intermediaries providing services primarily in the nature of messaging have to enable identification of the first originator of the information, which the government said, is required only in the interest of prevention, detection, investigation and punishment of an offence related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material.

Significant social media platforms are also expected to have a physical contact address in India published on their website or mobile app besides a voluntary user verification mechanism for users who wish to verify their accounts.

In cases where significant social media intermediaries remove or disable access to any information on their own accord, then a prior intimation for the same has to be communicated to the user who has shared that information with a notice explaining the grounds and reasons for such actions.

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Users must be provided with an adequate and reasonable opportunity to dispute the action taken by the intermediary.





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