Social media platforms have new norms to comply with. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok will need to develop account identity verification as part of social media guidelines. They will need to check “fake news, malicious content, misinformation, racial slurs, gender abuse that may have an impact on the individual and society as a whole,” the Indian IT Ministry announced.
Social Media Guidelines
The account identity verification is part of the social media guidelines that the IT Ministry is chalking out. An insider has told that the rules are a work in progress and will soon be sent to the Law ministry. The Ministry aims to curb misinformation, malicious info, and gender-biased views. Once passed as the law, account verification could be mandatory.
The personal data protection bill had proposed that social media platforms enable the ‘voluntary verification’ of the users. The verified users should be given a demonstrable and visible mark of verification which is akin to biometric or physical identification, publicly visible to all – the bill had suggested.
If the new social media guidelines come into place, it would be quite different from the verification system from the already verified accounts on platforms like Twitter and Instagram (a blue tick next to the username). Firstly, the social media platform will need to develop a security check for the user account verification.
What Does It Mean?
The new social media norms have also highlighted the definition of ‘significant data fiduciary’ based on the volume of personal data. To understand this, we need to look at the 2019 Bill, which details some of the terms of volume of personal data processed. The sensitivity of personal data and the risk of harm are specified in the Bill.
Upon satisfaction, the Data Protection Authority may notify a data fiduciary as a “significant data fiduciary” (social media companies). The Ministry has noted that any incorrect or fake information, big or small; even on a small social media platform can multiply to spread the misinformation, irrespective of the volume of personal data it holds.
Who Does It Apply To?
The new guidelines for social media platforms apply to ‘significant’ social media platforms. The Indian government will determine the ‘significant’ status of the company, based on the number of users, the impact it has on the society, Indian democracy, India’s security, and general harmony. Additionally, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that there is no proposal to link social media accounts to Aadhar.
Social media platforms have been bubbling with fake news, misinformation, hate speeches, and more. The need for verification of social media accounts has been spiking for a while now. In India, lynching incidents over religious issues have sparked from social media platforms. The new social media guidelines for account verification might be the first step to curb the malpractices.