Social media platforms can no longer receive special content rights
Yesterday, rules to limit the nature of content that social media platforms such as Facebook can allow came into effect. These rules, the rules on information technology (guidelines for intermediaries and code of ethics for the media), were notified by the government in February. The key provisions are that a platform must not allow itself to be used as a tool to violate any existing law, or to undermine India’s sovereignty and carry something patently bogus.
This development should not be viewed in isolation. What is happening in India is part of a global trend. In the nascent stage of the Internet, platforms were exonerated from all liability by the United States for content posted by users. This law, section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, provided a global model and opened up space for contemporary tech giants. In other words, the playing field has been deliberately kept uneven between mainstream media and social media, allowing the latter to engulf the space of the former and hampering credible journalism and the dissemination of the media. information.
Social media platforms are extremely influential today, but still wish to operate within a legislative framework of rights without responsibilities. It is no longer tenable. Tech giants are under pressure even in the United States, where the relevance of Section 230 is questioned by lawmakers. Content moderation is already done using sophisticated technology. It is clear that the means are not the problem. The era of privilege without responsibilities and uneven playing fields is over. For its part, the government must also move into the modern era by liberalizing content laws, for both mainstream and social media. For starters, the senseless colonial-era laws on sedition must be repealed immediately. Delhi police have taken to Twitter’s offices in India, after Twitter wielded its editorial power by tagging some tweets from ruling party members, sending exactly the wrong message in this regard.
This article was published as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.
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