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India sets stricter rules for social media giants


India has announced new regulations for social networks and other web services in the country, particularly important social media companies with large user bases, such as Facebook and Twitter.

India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) announced the rules earlier today.

The rules require social media companies to establish a mechanism to address grievances for users, including official grievance officials who acknowledge complaints within 24 hours and resolve them within 15 days.

The services must also remove nudity and explicit sexual content within 24 hours of the user's reporting.

Important social media intermediaries face additional responsibilities, and these companies must appoint officials residing in India who works with law enforcement authorities, as well as publishes a monthly report on supervision activity.

Important messaging-focused services must also be ready to identify the first creator of the message, a list that is likely to target the popular WhatsApp service.

Indian regulators have previously asked WhatsApp to identify the sources of anonymous rumors that sparked the violence, but the platform argued that this would harm end-to-end encryption.

The framework also indicates that the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology can regulate digital media services, including video broadcasting platforms, and digital news services must follow the official standards of journalistic conduct of traditional media.

"The rules aim to make social media companies more responsible and accountable for content across their platforms," said The Head of India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

U.S. social media companies have struggled to overcome the problems of violence, hate speech, and political conflict in India.

Facebook's head of local policy resigned last year under pressure from activists, and earlier this month, Twitter clashed with India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology over an order banning activists critical of the Government of India.

India tightened its public regulation of foreign web companies over the past year, and in June 2020, TechTalk banned other Chinese social applications, citing a threat to national sovereignty.

TechTalk reduced its staff in India last month, a move described as a withdrawal from the country.