Social platforms are the key tool for a number of brands to do marketing. The giants in the category, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram had been given a deadline of May 25 to adhere to the new guidelines laid by the Government of India. If the platforms fail to do so, they might see a ban in the country.
The Government of India announced new guidelines for the social platforms in the month of February. This new guideline is set to make these platforms more accountable for the content they have. These platforms have already been granted three months of grace to comply with the rules.
As we are trying to understand the meaning of these rules, we also wonder about their effect on companies creating and enhancing their marketing space through social media. Let’s hear it from the industry itself and understand Why Twitter, Facebook, Instagram may face a ban in India?
Ambika Sharma, Founder & MD, Pulp Strategy says, “For a seamless and balanced interface with the public, accepting and abiding the laws of the land is necessary. It is important for every country that media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp must have checks and balances to ensure that their reach is used for the right purposes while protecting the rights of the citizens and the country.”
She further elaborates, “Keeping a Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Officer, Resident Grievance Officer is a requirement by law of the land, it effectively will enable dealing with the public interface when there are multiple complaints. In light of the misuse of social media the digital platforms must also comply with the law like other systems of mass information like TV and radio. While it will be unfortunate if Twitter or any other platform gets banned due to non-compliance but if they are allowed to operate outside of the law and become tools of mischief directed at any citizen it will be worse. In the long run, it’s about commerce, India is a huge market with massive potential any product-focused on profitability will comply with its laws. They have in other countries, so India should receive the same reverence.”
Agreeing to the new guidelines and nodding for its existence, Shahir Muneer, Founder and Director, Divo says, “In many countries, social media apps are in the ambit as an intermediary, including in India and they lie under the safe harbour act in many countries, and hence not responsible for the actions of their user and the content they post. Every country in the recent past has had a certain level of government involvement in making social media responsible for putting certain policies in place or have regulation of content in social media platforms. USA had senate hearings with all of the major social media platforms, especially with the Cambridge Analytica and Russian involvement in the US election, which led to the global rollout of policies and procedures for disclosure of funding of political ads has to be seen by users publicly, EU passed a law known as GDPR which has been implemented by all the social media platforms to ensure data protection and privacy, and so forth.”
“So there is definitely a need for both self-regulation by the social media platforms and government-led policy to avoid fake news, hate, racism, abuse, child abuse, etc. As the requirement is mentioned in news states the requirement to takedown flagged content within 36 hours, it would be important to know what are the guidelines to content that is considered valid to be flagged and get taken down, as that is what will matter. As long as there is a fair and transparent process like seen in the hearings and its impact on users is also known publicly, and what comes under the ambit of valid content and content that violates the guidelines, this will be a needed and good precedent. But of course, as we know with power comes responsibility and cannot be one-sided where content gets taken down that favours one side of the conversation,” He further adds.
Sharing his thought on the topic, Taaran Chanana, MD & Co-Founder of Meme Chat, social networking apps for memes said, “The recent rumours of a possible ban on popular social media platforms have raised some concerns in key industries that rely on such apps for their messaging. In fact, social media has emerged as a critical vehicle for marketing across different sectors. The fear also comes from what happened with PUBG and TikTok in the past. The ban on these platforms meant a loss of user data and consumer reach. As a result, we are seeing a dramatic spike in user activity on MemeChat. Where the average usage is 60-70 thousand memes a day, we have already crossed the 100K mar and expect to record double our typical usage by the end of the day. On Twitter ‘Chalo MemeChat’ started trending as many users opted to use the platform to preserve their data and find a more lucrative means of making memes.”
We are not sure yet if the platforms might face a ban. But if it does, it is a huge setback for several small brands who are trying to make their footprints through social platforms.