India remains open to self-regulation of social media content – minister

By Munsif Vengattil and Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India continues to favor a self-regulatory body for disputes over social media content, a federal minister has told Reuters, despite a lack of consensus among big tech companies to form a committee joint call.

On Friday, the government announced it would set up an appeal committee, fearing that users would have no recourse if they objected to moderation decisions from companies such as Meta, Twitter or Google.

The move is seen as the latest attempt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration to regulate Big Tech companies through policy changes that have often angered companies that complain of an excessive compliance burden.

News of the panel came after New Delhi said in June it could drop the proposal if the companies themselves band together to form a self-regulatory body. But they failed to reach a consensus – Google opposed external reviews, as Reuters reported in August, while Meta and Twitter favored self-regulation fearing government excesses.

India’s IT Minister of State, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, told Reuters in an interview on Saturday that New Delhi could still consider industry self-regulation because government-led reviews “is not something that we want to spend a lot of time doing”.

He added, however, that such a body “cannot be a cozy club of industry people” and should have consumer and government representation.

Meta, Twitter and Google did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Social media content decisions have been a particularly thorny issue in India.

At a press briefing on Saturday, Chandrasekhar said the current internal grievance system at tech companies was “broken”.

Twitter has faced backlash in the past after blocking the accounts of influential Indians, including politicians, citing violations of its policies. He also locked horns with the Indian government last year when he refused to fully comply with orders to delete accounts, which the government says spread misinformation.

The government panel “is a signal to them (the social media companies) that they need to up their game,” Chandrasekhar told Reuters.

(Reporting by Munsif Vengattil and Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; editing by Clelia Oziel)

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