The rules require any social media company to create three roles in India: a “compliance officer” who will ensure they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who will address complaints from Indian users about their platforms; and a “contact person” available to Indian law enforcement 24/7. The companies will also have to publish a compliance report every month detailing how many complaints they received and what action they took.
Social media platforms will also be required to remove some types of content, including posts that feature “full or partial nudity,” a “sexual act” or “impersonation including morphed images.”
Large social networks, which India will define soon based on the number of users, will be given three months to comply with the policy changes, while smaller ones are expected to comply immediately, the government said.
“Social media is welcome to do business in India — they have done exceedingly well, they have brought good business, they have brought good number of users, and they have also empowered ordinary Indians,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s minister for electronics and information technology, told reporters on Thursday. But he said that while the government “welcomes criticism and the right to dissent,” tech companies need to do more “against the abuse and misuse of social media.”
Facebook said it would “carefully study” the new rules. “We have always been clear as a company that we welcome regulations that set guidelines for addressing today’s toughest challenges on the internet,” a company spokesperson told CNN Business. “Facebook is an ally for India and the agenda of user safety and security is a critical one for our platforms.”
Twitter and Google, which owns YouTube, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“If there is an attack on Capitol Hill in Congress then social media supports the police action, but if there is an aggressive attack on Red Fort, the symbol of India’s freedom … there is a double standard,” he said. “This is unacceptable.”
In Thursday’s press conference, Prasad cited industry estimates that highlight how important India is to these companies: WhatsApp has 530 million users in the country. Facebook’s flagship platform has 410 million users and Facebook-owned Instagram has 210 million. YouTube and Twitter have around 450 million and 17.5 million users, respectively, he said.
CNN’s Esha Mitra contributed to this report.